Andrew did not speak intelligibly until he was about 6 and to help him get his wants and needs met when around people who didn’t understand him, we had scripted some basic questions. He was quite a master at asking the question “Can I have ____?” and once he began speaking so others could understand him, I realized that it was time to start building his questioning skills (*please read my note at the bottom of this post). I thought about how to do this in an interesting way and had to look no farther than some magazines sitting on a shelf.
I flipped through and found some pictures that I could write questions for…
and cut them out.
I then printed out some questions…
and cut them into strips so they could be sorted and placed with the picture that they went with.
One Of My Favorite Things: One Activity Targeting Many Skills
As I got working on putting this together I realized that this would also allow me to build on another important skill for him, reading other people’s body language and facial expressions. We could discuss how the people were feeling, tie in personal experiences and even add in some pretend play by acting like we were feeling the same way (“How do you feel when you get dirt all over your clothes?” and/or “Can you make a face like hers?”). Oh I just love it when something so easy and basic provides me with ways to build many different skills. The fact that it didn’t cost me anything extra is a complete bonus!
Here is how I set it up as a My Obstacle Course station:
Here are some other pictures and questions I have used in the past:
These pictures and question strips could be glued onto construction paper and turned into a question book. In my experience as a classroom teacher and at home with Andrew, children love books that they helped create. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, pages stapled together or hole punched and tied together with yarn. I have found that it helps build reading confidence because they have the knowledge behind the pages so even if they cannot actually read the words, they can still “read” the words as they remember them, using the pictures to help.
As an extension of this skill, I would do the same type of activity but have him come up with questions to go with the picture.
Intelligibility Does Not Indicate Intelligence
Note: If I had only known then what I know now! If I had known that Andrew was understanding far more than anyone had thought, I would have done something like this before his speech was intelligible. This activity did not require him to speak or read since I was there to provide the auditory information for him (reading the questions) but he could look at the pictures to find the match.
One of the reasons I am doing this blog is to encourage parents to try things and activities that allow children to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding without having to speak intelligibly. Intelligibility does not indicate intelligence! Speech is definitely something that we work on but there is more to my son than the words he speaks that others are able to understand. It is my hope that the activities I share will help give you a more well-rounded picture of your child’s abilities, building on each developmental and academic area, whether considered a strength or weakness.
Engage, Encourage and Empower!