Babbling and Toddler Jargon – Phonological Development

By Pam Marshalla

3574173491_d1b75b622e_mQ: My preschool client says words, but they only occur at the end of long jargoned gibberish. How do I get rid of that unintelligible part?

I would not take the jargon away because jargon is a natural part of speech development. Van Riper called it pretend speech. I call the type you described Word Jargon.  It is jargon embedded with real words. Kids without speech-language impairment do this all the time, as they are moving toward 2-3 word phrases.

I just let the child jargon, and then I imitate the one intelligible word he said. This is done to help him learn to say that one word by itself under his full voluntary control.

Sample Dialogue:

Therapist: Hi, David. What are you going to have for lunch?

Child: Jargonjargonjargonjargonpizza.

Therapist: Pizza!

Child: Jargonjargonjargonjargonpizza.

Therapist: Pizza!

Child: Pizza!

You are aiming for that last step. You are trying to get him to imitate his production of that single word. You are trying to help him hear that single part, to recognize it as a complete word, and to realize the value of saying it alone.

Think of it this way: He has words. He just doesn’t know how to say them alone because he also is trying to talk like everyone else who is saying sentences. He needs permission just to say that one word.

He does not need to be discouraged from jargoning. It is good for him.

Therefore, in addition to this step, I also would provide him with ample opportunity to jargon away. Have you ever seen a 1-2 year old child sit with a book and “read” it out loud to himself? This is usually pure jargon with a few embedded real words. Give your client those types of opportunities, too.

For example, have him read you a book, or tell you a story, or tell you all about some situation, or sing you a song. You are encouraging him to jargon because this is his way of pretending to talk! Just like you have him dress up like a fireman and pretend to put out a fire, so too you have him dress up like a speaker and pretend to speak 🙂

3 thoughts on “Babbling and Toddler Jargon – Phonological Development”

  1. I’m so glad to have read this post because I was having a similar concern with one of my preschool clients. I have been working with him for a few months and have noticed that he produces jargon before 2-3 word phrases/sentences, too. Is there a natural progression that I should watch for with independent elimination of this jargon? It’s come to a point where his speech is less than 25% intelligible because the jargon is so quick paced.

    1. AJ – This is Shanti, Pam’s business manager. She is not responding to comments right now but I thought I’d help point you in the right direction for an answer 🙂 Pam covers this topic in detail in her book, “Apraxia Uncovered: The Seven Stages of Phoneme Development.” We will eventually be republishing this book without “Apraxia Uncovered” in the title because in hindsight we agree that the name is misleading… the book is primarily about phonological development. Beyond that, I suggest exploring the “phonological development” keyword tag on this blog which may give you some answers.

    2. The natural order of things is for children to jargon as they transition from single words to 2-3 word combinations. The jargon will be eliminated as the child gains competency in 2-3 word combinations. Just keep working on single words, and 2-3 word combinations. There is no time frame here because every child is different. Some take longer, some shorter, but as long as the child is jargoning I would assume he still needs it.

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