Tag Archives: play skills children autism

You say “toMAYto” and I say “toMAHto”

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May is Better Hearing and Speech Month.  Speech and Language Pathologists like to use this month to educate and teach others more about what we do and how to better ourselves as clinicians.  As an SLP, we work with many therapists OT, PT and BCBAs. Many of us use the same vocabulary and many terms can differ. As an SLP working in a team with BCBAs it is vital to know what we are all talking about! I could say “toMAYto” and a BCBA could say, “toMAHto,” but we really just want to get along and understand each other! We came together and created a vocabulary list to better understand each other.
Here are some of the common terms we both use and how we really are meaning the same thing!
Some of the common speech terms that overlap with BCBA terminology is listed. The Speech term is first then the ABA term:  Requesting-Manding, Labeling-Tacting, Imitation- Echoic, and Fill in- intra-verbal. Knowing these basic terms will help the SLP and BCBA and ABA therapist to understand each other. We may speak different languages but we are all trying to come together and work as a team to get the same result.
— Hannah Trahan, MS CCC-SLP & Nicole LeMaster, MA BCBA

SLP Term Translation
Label Tact
Request Mand
Imitation Echoic
Fill in Intraverbal Fill in
Open ended question Intraverbals
Non-verbal Non-vocal
Code switch a different means of interacting with people based on your learning history with them. Ex: the way you talk with friends vs. the way you talk with co-workers
Motor planning being able to complete the steps necessary to do an activity. Being able to move your body to get the job done.
Articulation Speech sounds
Executive functioning Problem solving
Therapy of mind Perspective taking
Central coherence ability to focus on details as well as the whole picture
AAC Alternative Augmentative Communication
Fluency smooth, rhythmic, effortless speech
Dysfluency stuttering
Syntax grammar
Semantics word meaning
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Tips for Increasing Appropriate Play Skills

Children on the Autism Spectrum often do not engage in appropriate play.  Play may involve manipulating a toy inappropriately or playing with only one part of a preferred item (the wheels, for example).   They may explore toys but rarely play them according to their function. Pretend play and social play are often limited as well.

When teaching appropriate play, start with simple toys and/or activities. Be aware of the items or activities that the child already finds fun.  Pair new play skills with fun things!  For example, if the child loves a particular movie, play the movie in the background as they explore a new toy.  If they really love chips, give them chips intermittently as they look at the pictures of a new book or turn on their favorite song and give them praise as they explore a new play set.  Pairing new play skills with items or activities that are already fun will make new play behaviors fun as well.  It will then be more likely that the child will want to play appropriately again in the future.

Once they show interest in a new item and/or activity, model appropriate play.  Show them how to push the buttons, drive the car across a track, or turn the pages of a book.  If they spontaneously imitate any of these behaviors, make sure to reinforce with already established fun activities (such as edibles, praise, movies, etc.).

These tips are also beneficial for teaching social and pretend play.  Pair social and pretend play with fun things!  Model these behaviors and be sure to reinforce with established fun activities when the child emits any of these appropriate skills.    Siblings can be an essential part of the modeling process and can help deliver reinforcing items and activities as well.

Allow the child to naturally explore their environment.  Don’t force the child to engage in appropriate play behaviors as this may make new behaviors aversive. Remember to pair, model, and reinforce!

Laura Britton, BCBA

increasing appropriate play skills

increasing appropriate play skills