Dr. James D. MacDonald's Website
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After a child is talking regularly as a natural part of his daily life, and talking back and forth in easy interactions, it is time to help him have conversations that will be the best tools for building friendships and learning about the world. Conversations will best begin when you and the child are doing something together that you both enjoy. Staying on a topic becomes a major goal as well as having conversations about what others care about as well as the child's interests
Nick had a great deal of language by ten but he rarely talked with people other than at home or answering questions in school. Wey tried many times to enter him in age-matched group activities but he isolated himself. Then at age ten he said he's like to volunteer with 5 and 6 year olds in the developmental delay class. Once he did this, he began having conversations with the children and told his parents how much he enjoyed helping the children. Th children looked up to him and did not talk or move as fast as his age-matched peers. That is how Nick learned to have conversations...he did it with children who were at his developmental speed conversationally and who made him feel useful.
The more I made learning hard work for Nick the more antagonistic we became. ..My husband, Joe told us to 'stop the war'. It was a struggle and he withdrew more. I thought I he had to learn so much for school that I did not realize he would learn to talk best when we played enjoyable together. Then I joined his world and he finally let me in. I realized that a happy child is much more important than an "A' student.
Aiden began to talk well into his fourth year. Now he is six and we have been working hard at home at having conversations about anything he wants. Aiden (6) got his first "friend" phone call yesterday. So cute! A girl from his kindergarten called just to chat. It's kind of hysterical how these six year olds want to talk on the phone; I guess it makes them feel grown up.
Anyway they talked for about five minutes-he told her what he did that day, responded to what she said (I think she invited him to a non existent party) and he invited her to a non-existent sleepover. Then he told her he had to go eat supper and that he'd see her tomorrow and hung up. He had a grin from ear to ear. I think the telephone is a good way to encourage conversation since it forces a back and forth exchange that face-to-face contacts don't.
I have really been tuning in lately to conversations with Aiden lately and I realize that we are now pretty successful at it. When I used to mainly ask him questions and make him say things, he clammed up. The times I was discouraged were the conversations that I tried to dictate, but when I allow him to lead the way, there are much better results. I overheard him talking to his dad this morning when they were snuggling in his room.
So off they went downstairs and took the tape, Aiden's music, out of the dog's mouth.