Speech Therapy Activity: Teach your Child to use Action Verbs to Communicate-Part 4

Updated: Aug 31, 2020

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How do I teach my child to make request for indoor activities using Action Verbs such as eat, drink or dance?

It is important to be very systematic in teaching your child to use the various Action Verbs for communication.

Do try to complete Part 1, 2 and 3 of this Action Verbs series first.

The links for the series are at the bottom of this post.

Let's start with an example...

Adam's daily afternoon routine:

After lunch, at 1:30pm, Adam watches his favorite DVD - Upin & Ipin. Sometime during the show, he will come to you, pulling your hand to go to the fridge. He waits for you to open the fridge door and he takes out his usual drink - Vitagen.

At 2:30, after 1 hour of watching Upin & Ipin, Adam likes to dance to his favorite video on YouTube, "Baby Shark". This lasts for 20-30 minutes after which, Adam will want to drink some milk and have his afternoon sleep.

How many Action Verbs can I teach Adam using his daily afternoon routine?

You can have 2 Category Cards:

  • One "Indoor Activities" Card - that can't fit in his "Toys and Activities Cupboard" (see explanation in the next question)

  • Two "Food and Drinks" Card

What is the "Toys and Activities Cupboard" all about?

That is a series on "Teaching your Child to request for his Toys or Activities" for e.g. coloring books and pencils, train set, Lego and more.

A good time to teach your child this skill may be before or after moving on to Part 4 of this series. As parents, you will be the best people to decide. You could just go through the 2 posts on the Toys series...and see which direction is most suitable for your child. It also involves exchanging pictures for the items wanted.

To go to the "Requesting for Toys" series, click on the images below:

How do I start teaching Part 4 of this series?

It's preparation time...

Step 1: Print and Laminate the 2 category cards below. Size: A4, Layout: Landscape.

Step 2: After laminating, paste 2 strips of Velcro (the rough side) on where the grey boxes are - see below.

Velcro width: recommended size is 1cm...

Step 3: Remember to leave some space above the title for punching in holes...

Step 4: Find the pictures online or take photographs of the 5 words that you are going to teach your child:

Vitagen, Sleep, Watch, Milk and Dance.

The pictures must be good enough for your child to understand what they are.

For e.g. the picture for 'watch' needs to be a picture of the Upin & Ipin DVD.

Print, Laminate and Cut out the pictures

What is the most suitable size for the Action Verb picture cards?

It depends on what works best for your child. However, we need to be able to fit at least 3 cards per row as in the picture below.

A good size for the 3 picture cards per row, would be around 6cm x 6cm per card. For 4 cards in a row - you would need to make them smaller...

It should look something like the image below before printing...

Step 5: For the time being, hang or use Velcro to attach the Food and Drinks category card on your fridge.

The fridge is a good location for now, as we will focus only on VITAGEN at this stage..

Read the details in the image below for the recommended placing. Many of you are very creative....do share with us your ideas on how to get it on the fridge...The idea is for you to be able to access it ASAP...

Step 5: Find a convenient place to put up the "Indoor Activities Card". The idea is the same...to get it down as soon as possible. It all depends on the setting of your house.

Below is a suggestion, in the living room..

Do I need a training partner this time?

You will need a training partner to help you until your child understands the concept and is confident with what he has to do.

It is advisable to use different training partners sometimes, so that your child will not be too dependent on any one person...The training partners can be your spouse, your other children or other relatives.

You and your training partners are encouraged to change roles at times. This is important as you may not be at home all the time.

What category and picture cards am I going to start off with?

For the "Indoor Activities" we will start with the: Watch Upin & Ipin picture card.

For the "Food and Drinks" we will start with the : Drink Vitagen picture card.

Let's look at the 1st part of the example again...

Adam's daily afternoon routine:

After lunch, at 1:30pm, Adam watches his favorite DVD - Upin & Ipin. Sometime during the show, he will come to you, pulling your hand, to go to the fridge. He waits for you to open the fridge door and takes out his usual drink - Vitagen.

What is the first step in conducting this training?

Step 1:

Since he watches his Upin & Ipin DVD at 1:30 pm daily,

a minute or so before 1:30, show him the "Indoor Activities" card with only the 'watch Upin & Ipin' picture on it. ( Try to make him see where you have taken the "Indoor Activities Card" from). As in the picture below, try to place the DVD in a place where you can get to it as soon as it's needed.

You say: "What do you want to watch?"

Your training partner will need to:

  • guide your child's hand to the 'watch' picture,

  • help him pull it out, and

  • guide him to hand it to you.

Now You say: "Watch Upin & Ipin"

Remember to repeat "Watch Upin & Ipin" as many times as possible.

Don't delay showing him the DVD and putting it on. Just repeat while you are doing it.

Do this whole process as quickly as possible. This is something different to what he is used to and we do not want him to think that he is not going to get to watch his DVD.

If he thinks that he wont get his way, he may not participate in the training. We must also make sure that he gets to watch it by 1:30 pm sharp. This is very important.

Why is this very important?

Why repeat the words?

So that he will say it later on...when he does try to say it, do praise him even if it is not perfect...

What is the next step and when do I start it?

It depends on how well your child is coping with the first step...If he is doing well, you can start this step after a couple of days..

Step 2:

This is what usually happens as in the example above...

Sometime during the show, he will come to you, pulling your hand to go to the fridge. He waits for you to open the fridge door and takes out his usual drink - Vitagen.

When your child takes you to the fridge, do the same thing as in step 1.

Take the "Food and Drinks" category card down as fast as you can. Get your training partner to guide him to give you the picture card and immediately give him the Vitagen.

While he pulls you to the fridge,

You say: What do you want to drink?

Want to drink Vitagen?

Again...repeat the work "drink Vitagen" during the whole process...try using an animated voice...

Would it be difficult for my child to learn these new steps?

It won't be as difficult as it was in Part 1, 2 and 3 of this series.

This is, because you have already trained him to exchange pictures in order to do outdoor activities before this. The concept will be familiar to him and he may be more cooperative.

When can I add on new Action Verbs picture cards?

Once your child is able to perform these steps independently (without the help of the training partner). You can add on the 'dance' picture card to the Indoor Activities category card.

However, you may need to get the help of the training partner again since this time he has to choose between 2 cards..

  1. Watch Upin & Ipin OR

  2. Dance to Baby Shark

Move according to your child's pace. Only when he can do a step independently, add on new steps or picture cards...

The steps are the same for each new picture card you introduce...

Can you give me an example?

Sure, let's say that you now want to teach your child to request for the "dance" picture card...

Now, let's look back at part of Adam's daily routine...

....At 2:30, after 1 hour of watching Upin & Ipin, Adam likes to dance to his favorite video on YouTube - "Baby Shark".

Step 1: Load the Baby Shark video on your tab or phone so that it can be seen by your child at the planned time.

Just as Upin & Ipin is finishing ( around 2:30 ), keep your tab or phone in a place that is just out of his reach. He must be able to see that you have his Baby Shark video on your gadget when you show it to him.

Your training partner and you need to be standing with the Indoor Activities Category card - all ready and prepared..

See the image below...

Step 2

When your child comes towards you to get the tab or phone, your training partner will need to quickly help your child remove the correct picture and guide his hand to exchange it for the tab.

During that time you say: Want to dance?

Baby Shark dance !

As always, repeat the words, and when your child is able to do this action independently (without the training partner), you can add on more picture cards..

My child does not do what Adam does in the example given, what do I do in this case?

You will need to closely observe what your child does during the afternoon and take note of the timing and time. Take your time to figure out his routine, it may take 2 weeks for you to make an accurate observation.

Many children with autism have a good sense of time. For example, they can sense when it's 2 o'clock even without being able to tell time. So they may want to do a certain activity that they do everyday at 2 o'clock.

What is the goal of this activity?

The first goal of part 4 of this series is for your child to first go to the "Indoor Activities" category card, that is hanging in the living room. Then, pull out the picture of the activity that he wants to do and finally, give the picture to you.

The second goal is for him to go to the " Food and Drinks" category card, pull out the picture of the drink that he wants and hand it to you.

But the Card is too high for my child to reach....

You can bring the card down to a lower level during the afternoons for him to pick out the picture cards independently.

At this stage he may be happy that he can communicate his needs without getting frustrated. This usually will reduce the chances of the children damaging the picture cards.

Do keep copies of your picture cards safely in the computer so that you can replace them if needed.

What's next?

Practice these new skills daily...you will need to be very consistent. Your child needs to know that he can ONLY get to do what he wants by making requests using the picture cards.

Click on the image below for Part 5 of the ACTION VERBS SERIES

Click the buttons below to go to Part 1, 2 & 3 of this series...

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