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Putting words together - will it happen?

(29 Posts)
zen1 Fri 24-Jun-11 22:22:28

DS3 is now 2.7, no diagnosis but many ASD traits and hypermobility. His speech has been improving recently in terms of the number of single words he can say (tbh I've lost count but it must be over 100), but he is not really putting words together, apart from stock phrases he has learnt as 2 words like 'all gone', 'clean teeth', 'wet-wipe'. Has has started to say "hello mummy" or "hello <any other family member>", but apart from that not putting words together. I've been reading the Hannen books and everything seems to say that when a child has acquired 50 words they usually begin to combine but this isn't really happening. Just wondering if any one else's DC was like this but did eventually start combing? Thanks

TotalChaos Fri 24-Jun-11 22:25:23

yep, DS didn't start combining till 3.5, had loads of nouns and stock phrases but didn't combine. We used visual pecs symbols to get him structuring sentences, which worked really well (SALT recommended it). I would start pushing the verbs for now, as verbs ar the building blocks of sentences.

zen1 Fri 24-Jun-11 22:33:44

Thanks - he has just started saying a few verbs (in command form grin) like "play" or "walk". Wish he would just say "play train" or something...

TotalChaos Fri 24-Jun-11 22:34:26

keep on modelling ad infinitum. eat/drink are usually good ones to start with, v. concrete regular examples...

zen1 Fri 24-Jun-11 22:39:04

Will do! Come to think of it he does say "eat" and "drink" when requesting, so I will push this (with the narrow range of foods he eats!)

chocjunkie Fri 24-Jun-11 22:44:58

hi zen, can only 2nd what totalchaos said re verbs and modelling. also, try to keep your sentences really short (2-3 words).

I have DD (3.4) and she has loads of words and is just starting to string words together. the modelling and keeping sentences really short seem to help her. we haven't tried pecs (yet) so can't commend on that.

we also have the hanen books and the 50+ word threshold for combing wasn't true for us either. have you been seen by a salt yet?

EllenJaneisnotmyname Fri 24-Jun-11 23:29:13

How about colours? They are nice and concrete. Could you try red car, or blue cup, maybe? Or DS's cup or mummy's biscuit? It's a case of modelling them, over and over. With the lovely Hanen books (More than Words or It Takes 2?) they'd advise modelling whatever your DS is focussed on, so if he's into cars have some in different colours. What's he like with counting? One car, two cars?

zen1 Fri 24-Jun-11 23:42:45

Thanks for advice chocjunkie and EllenJane. Yes, we saw a salt in January who just said there was nothing she could advise that we weren't already doing hmm, but he only had about 20 words then. No follow up, just a cop-out really. He's also on the waiting list for portage and attends a special needs nursery once a week.

It's funny you should say about colours EllenJane because every day when taking Ds1 & Ds2 to school, I point out all the car colours to Ds3 as we are walking along ("red car, blue car etc etc", and sometimes he copies me but I don't really think he knows his colours yet. He does kind of get numbers though and has started to count things so I will maybe switch the colours with the numbers! I just feel that absolutely everything he learns has to be explicitly taught and it is exhausting sometimes, especially if you don't know whether he's registered something or not.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Fri 24-Jun-11 23:55:39

None of the normal parenting rules work, do they! My DS2 was obsessed with counting, and shapes. Really concrete, visible things. I swear he said 'square' 'circle' before 'mummy' or even 'drink.' He ha gleaned some phrases from his favourite computer games by 3yo but they were learnt as whole phrases, like 'all gone' or 'who's there?' with no real understanding they were 2 words. I can remember 'swing' stood for 'park' etc.

By 3.5 he started putting words together. We did use pecs to great effect to give him an understanding of the usefulness of communicating. He would give me a card with a biscuit on it and I'd model, 'biscuit, I want a biscuit' etc. Are you interested in using pecs? I'll search for some old threads if you like?

EllenJaneisnotmyname Sat 25-Jun-11 00:03:02

Found an old thread where I bored the pants off everyone evangelising about PECS. linky here Feel free to ignore!

zen1 Sat 25-Jun-11 12:59:35

I know what you mean, EllenJane: my son took a relatively short time to learn shapes too and has no trouble pointing them out (e.g the cross on a pharmacy sign) and 'light','fan' and 'mirror' were amongst his first words because he loves shiney and spinning things.

I guess I am in two minds about using PECS because DS3 has taken a long time to start recognising images. He is better with photos, but I don't want to confuse him as he can request most things verbally, even if it is just using one word (if he wants a drink he will say 'drink', 'cup' or 'orange'). I guess I'll just model around the single words he has. Thanks for the link though - I'll certainly look at itsmile

EllenJaneisnotmyname Sat 25-Jun-11 13:06:28

PECS isn't for everyone, don't worry. It kickstarted my DS but we stopped using it after 6 months or so. He's 11 now and can talk about anything but only chooses to talk in any detail about his favourite obsession. Your DS will get there. He's already started.

Starchart Sat 25-Jun-11 13:06:28

PECS are good for getting him to understand that he needs to address his words TO SOMEONE.

In terms of teaching colours try two toy cars that are the same apart from their colours. Red and yellow perhaps.

Put them in front of him and say 'red car'. You then might have physically get his hand and help him touch it, then repeat, helping his hand again. Try once again and if he makes ANY effort at all to touch the car on his own, even if he doesn't quite acheive it, instantly give him the teeny sweet you have had in his view. And then repeat. Then swap the colours around. When he is consitently getting 'red car' correct, then say 'yellow car'. and then chop and change, and then take the red out of the equation and introduce another car.

DO it really fast. Make it fast and enjoyable and very very rewarding. He has to REALLY want what he is touching the stupid damn car for.

Marne Sat 25-Jun-11 13:39:38

We used PEC's and it worked well for us, dd2 was non verbal until 3 then started with single works 'drink', 'cake' ect..., at 4 she started stringing words together (we started with colours using her PEC'S), 'pink cake', blue cup' ect..., she's now 5 and is capable of speking in sentances but often chooses not to (she only talks when she has too and keeps it simple but will talk in sentances when playing with her toys).

zen1 Sat 25-Jun-11 13:43:35

Will try the car thing Star! I know he recognises different colours as he can colour match so I think he is capable of learning his colours now. I'm sure he will like the 'fast' aspect to this sort of game!

zen1 Sat 25-Jun-11 13:48:01

Marne, I will look again at PECS - may be I shouldn't rule it out as it seems to work for a lot of people smile

signandsmile Sat 25-Jun-11 18:09:59

Don't want to throw a spanner in the works, so feel free to disregard. for my ds it was signing that gave him 'language' and the speech came later, (I always signed and spoke to him and acknowledged all efforts of speech from him). he was eventually signing fluent sentences, (4 or 5 signs) and only saying odd single words, now 3 years later (nearly 5 yrs old) he is using spoken sentences, longest so far 'I feel hungry, I want something to eat!'

As i said it may not be relevant to you, but just thought I would post...

EllenJaneisnotmyname Sat 25-Jun-11 18:16:58

Tried as I might with DS2, signs were too abstract. I think it's really positive that your DS has done so well with them, sign. Makes me wonder if his ASD isn't too severe, IYSWIM? But it's getting that desire to communicate going, by whatever means that is so important.

signandsmile Sat 25-Jun-11 18:35:30

yeah dont know why it worked for him, (def ASD, but not classic. and mild to mod LD as well) he may just be 'angled' that way, it maybe cos I was fluent anyway, so just signed everything I said, I know the speech therapist (working at the ASD unit) said she had never met one like him, hmm. But she felt it gave him langauge in that important early bit, and we didn't know if speech would come at all, had 7 words until he was 3.5 / 4.

you never really know, do you? i just remember the ss we were looking at saying 'oh signing doesn't work for kids with ASD' and me thinking, well it does for mine! (he isn't going there, grin.

working9while5 Sat 25-Jun-11 20:45:57

Even if you don't want to try PECS, you could try little sentence strips for the two word combinations so he gets the idea? e.g. eat apple, drink juice, red car

I worked with a little boy who enjoyed the rhyme "bobbing up and down on my big red tractor" - we had pictures of different coloured tractors to begin with and a two stage symbol strip so we would pause and say
bobbing up and down on my big...
and he would choose a colour and put it on the sentence strip e.g. red
red tractor etc
After modelling/pausing/making it a communication temptation he would say red tractor and then we changed the next verse to chugging up and down on my big green train etc.

The faster/more frequent you do whatever it is, as Star said, the better.

You also have to find something that's motivating for your LO, that's the number one key to success - if it's not something really wants he's not going to have that motivation to add the extra word in.

If there's something he requests a lot, you can try adding a please onto the words he uses to request, either a word or a sign e.g. choo choo please. When he requests, model the two word phrase and wait. A sign can be a useful prompt here, with another adult acting as a model to show that the two word phrase "gets" the prize.

Again, signs are a bit hit and miss kids who may be on the spectrum. Some kids fly with them and I think they have many advantages but not all do, you just have to try it and see.

If he likes photos, you could take photos and label them - put the photo in the centre of the page and have two strips of pictures to describe them down either side. Some resources here:

Again, depends on what motivates. Motivation is everything. What can you think of that he really, really likes and is happy to communicate for? What does he ask for vs label (mand vs tact)? These are the ones to start with.

working9while5 Sat 25-Jun-11 20:48:08

(or instead of please, I want + what he wants). I know this sounds like three words but I want is a bit like all gone, it's really more of a learned phrase so counts as one word.

Hello + mummy is definitely a two word though

Can you play a game with this? Try and do Hello + Mummy/Daddy and favourite characters e.g. Thomas or Bob or a teddy or anything that's motivating for him, even if it's something like an apple!

Then do bye bye mummy etc. Peepo with a blanket?

blueShark Sat 25-Jun-11 21:55:04

DS started putting words into sentences spontaneously at around 4. Until then he used lots of memorised phrases such as cross street, flash toilet, wash hands, put jacket on, put shoes on, get dressed, baby crying, car driving, fast train coming etc which he acquired around 3, then just before he turned 4 he started go park, lets cross the street, eat + noun, play + activity...

As the others have suggested keep modelling language and add an extra word to what he is saying so if he mands for juice add drink juice, if he labels toys/items teach him colors and shapes (actually I thought DS 5 colors and few shapes around 3.5).

Teach some of the most used verbs first, if I find the list I had I will email such as eating, drinking, running, walking, jumping, pouring, sitting etc and if you are comfortable model the actions yourself and make it fun or get the favourite teddy or toy do it, or the siblings....

Lots of hiding games so that you consistently say hello and bye to the toy..introduce closure to activities and 'finished' to eating, a closure of events I found the hardest with speech delayed child. Later when he acquires more language you may regret teaching him 'finished' as thats the start of all our fights but does miracles at that age smile

zen1 Sat 25-Jun-11 22:51:13

Thanks for posting about signing, sign. I know they use signing as DS's nursery, but I have been reluctant to use it up until now because he acquires spoken words so quickly (I usually only have to tell him the word for something once or twice and he remembers it and uses it appropriately). I guess I am concerned that if I start using signing, it will confuse him and am also a bit worried that it will affect his acquisition of spoken language (I know there's no evidence for that - just me being paranoid!) and he might stop trying to speak. It is good to read that it was successful for your DS though and that he's now speaking in sentences.

Working, thanks for your advice. I will try the bobbing up and down song as DS loves tractors (and being bounced up and down grin). I was interested in what you said about ask vs label when modelling. I hadn't really thought about that before, but it makes a lot of sense. His current (almost exclusive) interest is trains, so he will happily request 'track', 'trains', 'tunnel', 'bridge', so I will build on these as motivators.

I am also trying to get him to say 'please', and he will say it if I say "what do you say?" after he requests something. He hasn't started adding it spontaneously yet, but I'm hopeful he will achieve that soon. He just just started saying 'thank you' spontaneously when given something, so I am happy about that smile

blueShark, my Ds sounds very similar to yours in the learning of memorised phrases. He says things like cross road, green man, washing up, tidy up, turn on/off etc, but as you said, they have been learned as phrases. I'm going to try to model more verbs for him as he uses them in command form at the moment. Thanks for the tip about introducing closure to activities. I dread closure moments, especially to activities he's enjoying as he tends to throw a complete tantrum.

signandsmile Sun 26-Jun-11 07:23:44

you may already be doing this, but we always give a count down to closing activites, have seen it done with traffic light colours, or we do it with words and signs, (one more, then last one, then finished, bye bye X)

zen1 Sun 26-Jun-11 14:25:44

Will try that too, sign smile

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