This advice-column-style blog for SLPs was authored by Pam Marshalla from 2006 to 2015, the archives of which can be explored here. Use the extensive keywords list found in the right-hand column (on mobile: at the bottom of the page) to browse specific topics, or use the search feature to locate specific words or phrases throughout the entire blog.
Q: 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.
Therapist: Hi, David. What are you going to have for lunch?
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 🙂