Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Children who take your hand and pull you

Last month we talked about children with social interaction difficulties who can be described as having their own agenda. The next group of children are those Hanen describe as 'requesters' We have several children who are at this stage on our caseload.

Toni is a 3-year-old child at the Requester stage, He communicates mainly by pulling or leading others to request things he wants. When he wants to watch the TV, he takes his mum's hand and pulls her towards the TV, when he wants a biscuit he leads his Dad to the kitchen cupboard where the biscuit tin is kept. His attention span is very short and it is difficult to get him to co-operate for very long even on favourite activities. He makes high pitched noises and has some limited 'jargon' but says no words.

Louisa is 2 and a half and loves to watch cartoons, She can echo some of the common repeated phrases but has no functional expressive language. She is a happy child and entertains herself until it's time for her to end an activity or go somewhere as she doesn't understand why she should finish or where she's going. She is responding well to a 'now and next' board and photos/visuals to help her understand.Attention span is improving. She is requesting tickles, food and games. Her nursery uses makaton and she is beginning to pick up signs to use for her requests e.g. biscuit. drink, sweet.

It can be very difficult to work with a child at this level due to their attention span but it is actually a very positive stage because the child at a Requester stage is beginning to realise that they can influence their environment and especially you! By leading you or taking your hand they can get things they want or enjoy. This is extremely significant in the development of communication.

At this stage we encourage games such as Peek-a-boo, round and round the garden, ring a ring a roses etc so they can take an active part in getting you to keep playing. If we pause they can look, move or even jiggle to get you to keep going. Later  we will aim for them to verbalise. We can also use wind up toys, ready-steady-go games or 'row row the boat'.

Children at this level may:

  • interact briefly
  • use sounds to focus or calm themselves
  • echo words or phrases

These are all things we can build upon. Activities can be made to be really fun!

If you have a child at this stage, it's very worthwhile seeing a speech and language therapist to help you.

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