Expansion of Language: Supporting AAC Learner’s Progress

We often see that one of the major stumbling blocks for an emergent communicator’s progress is the struggle to get past single word utterances. The simplest way to help them overcome this is by building on what they already know. And the key here is to refrain from adding too much new information.

One Step at a Time Please

This language building strategy works best if the goal set is to attain just the next step in their language development i.e, single word communicators must be encouraged to utter two-word or three-word phrases. Setting an overambitious goal can end up discouraging them and can prove to be counter productive. 

There’s A Method to This Expansion

By using expansion strategies, we can help communicators gradually build their sentence length. This, however, is easier said than done. Without an understanding of how best to expand language, we may just end up confusing the communicator. (Learn more about expansion and extension here.)

When then communicator says, ‘TV’,  say, ‘Want to watch TV?” and model the two words on the child’s AAC system.

Saying, ‘Oh, I think your favourite cartoon will be on now’ or ‘After you finish reading’ aren’t necessarily incorrect reponses. But communicators tend to pick up language skills better when we repeat the word they have uttered and add little new information.

Here’s a look at how you can expand a communicator’s single-word utterances:

Be Specific in Your Praise 

When the communicator successfully puts together words, praise them and let them know what you’re appreciating them for. 

Instead of saying, ” Good job”, say, “Good job. You said want cookie”

“Well done. You said more cookie please”

This will ensure that the child knows clearly what they are receiving the praise for. This reinforcement will go a long way in motivating them to put more words together. 

Language Builder Bundle

Here is a sample activity bundle for language building. This bundle focuses on the core word ‘Want‘. 

Use the core word poster to reiterate the communicator’s knowledge of the word ‘Want’

Read the story book given to model two-word phrases to encourage the child to expand their language.

Cut Pictures from the Vocab Toolbox to make the reading fun. Cut, Play, Communicate!

Use the Gamified PDFs to help the child acquire fringe vocabulary along with core vocabulary

Refer Communication Partner Ideas for how to incorporate language building in daily activities.

How to Use the Bundle

Read Language Builder Instructions PDF given below for details on how to use this bundle. Click on the below icons to download the individual PDFs

Download all the above resources as a Language Builder Bundle here

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