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: I have a two-year-old client who only says “Mmmm” and “Ahhh.” He won’t do anything for me. How can I get him to talk?
First, I would like to refer you to my book called Becoming Verbal with Childhood Apraxia. I am not trying to sell you a book, but I wrote it precisely for this type of case. It will help you understand how to help little kids become more vocal, verbal, interactive, communicative, and imitative. It discusses the development of imitation, from newborn skills through true imitation. It is less about what we want the client to do and more about what we can do.
Second, I would stimulate every type of communication system: vocal, verbal, gestural, facial, pictures, computers. Everything. Don’t get locked in to one system, and don’t tell the parents, “We are doing this because he can’t talk.”
Typical toddlers use all these ways of communicating right from the beginning; so give this client the same type of environment. Also you never know what will cause him to begin to communicate more.
Third, have fun in therapy. With little guys this has to look like play. But it’s not about sitting on the floor or playing with toys. It’s about playing with sounds and words during the process of everyday living.