When a child is a late-talker, what can you do to help?
As a parent or care-giver – Stop talking! Many families with late talkers (children who are not putting two words together by age 2) have others in the home that do all the talking. Maybe there are older siblings, maybe grandparents, certainly mothers (we are usually big talkers!)
But how can a child develop language and speech if he never gets to have his turn?
By using an anticipatory pause you are helping your child develop his or her communication. Here’s how to do it right:
- Step 1 – Speak to your child (make a statement or ask a question).
- Step 2 – Wait silently. Do not repeat! Watch your child for his or her response.
- Step 3 – If your child does not respond, give a short cue. It could be a short version of what you just said. Or it could be a non-verbal cue like a point, gesture or facial expression.
- Step 4 – Wait again silently.
Each time you interact with your child, you will give him pause time in which he can respond. Do not rush! That pause may need to be longer than you want, but long enough for your child to “process” what he/she hears and come up with a response. Think of your interaction with your child as a partnership. You initiate and he/she responds. When you keep going, and do not give a pause, your child will have a harder time saying his/her part.
Parent: “Do you want a cracker or a cookie? (pause)
Child: looks but no pointing and no verbal response
Parent: Cracker … or… cookie? (pause)
Child: points to cookie
Parent: Cookie! (pause)
Parent: Tell me “cookie” (pause)
Parent: gives child the cookie
(Hooray – that is successful communication!)
Here’s what real parents have to say about the anticipatory pause: “We have been putting into practice the anticipatory pause and it has made such an amazing difference already. If we just wait and give (our son) time, he seems to respond. The other night, I told him to take off his shorts as he was getting ready for the shower. At first, he said no and just stood there. So, I just looked at him and waited … still he did nothing. Then, I motioned to his shorts non verbally… and then he proceeded to try and take them off by himself. It was great. We have seen him respond almost every time once we give that anticipatory pause.”