Dr. James D. MacDonald's Website
Helping Parents Help Children. Programs for Parents, Therapists & Educators
After 25 years of clinical and research work focusing on this common question, we conclude that parents' communication style is the single most influential tool for helping children become more social and communicative. Consequently, the driving principal of the Communicating Partners clinic and treatment model is that children will improve their language and communication development to the degree that they have frequent connections with partners who are fine tuned to the child.
Our years of research identify at least five interactive strategies or habits that are powerful ways to help children to communicate. These five strategies provide developmentally effective answers to the question, "What can adults do on a daily basis to help children communicate?" The value of this finding lies in the fact that the solution to many problems of language delay lies in the daily interactions that such children have with their closest companions. Consider the five strategies together as one approach to communicating with children. We call the approach ACE (for Adult Communicating Effectiveness). The ACE has been developed with over 500 preverbal and pre-conversational children and their parents and teachers. The children have included ones with both typical and delayed language development. These ACE strategies have been demonstrated as being effective across several levels of development. Each strategy is a practical rule that can apply to children who are non-interactive, interactive but not communicative, communicative but not verbal, and verbal but not conversational. Each strategy does not tell you exactly what to do; rather it guides you in how to relate to each child as the child is currently interacting.