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Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Speech Pathologist’s Battle Cry: Model! Model! Model!

Modeling. We talk about it a lot when working with children with an assortment of “special needs.”  But I don’t think we ever really aggregate all of the different skills we model for.





  • AAC use: We encourage and direct communication partners to use Aided Language Stimulation to teach AAC users how to use their AAC system and how to use the vocabulary and language it contains. Modeling use of the AAC system has been given various names, but it most often called Aided Language Stimulation (Goosens et al 1992) or Aided Input. This modeling takes the form of the communication partner pointing to symbols on the communication display simultaneous with speaking and any language input/stimulation in order to demonstrate use of the symbols for interaction. 
  • Language skills: Our use of a variety of vocabulary and syntactic structures act as models for children to learn to use that vocabulary and syntax.  We use a variety of supporting strategies - such as recasting, self-talk, and others - to enhance our models and reshape them.  We model complete syntax back to children when their response is fragmented or telegraphic or otherwise restricted. These models build language.  Every interaction provides an opportunity for the child to practice language.  Providing models of asking and answering questions, organizing details of a topic/experience, gaining attention, etc. all are critical for the child learning to interact competently.

  • Narrative structure: We tell stories and we (hopefully) read stories, giving children models of conversational structure and story structure so that children can learn how to tell about experiences and tell good stories.  Narratives for AAC users often begin with single word utterances, used sequentially, and develop as we provide models for expanded responses, descriptive language use, and story grammar.
  • Social skills: One of the skills I see parents and teachers making sure to model is good manners. Use of ‘please,’ ‘thank you,’ ‘you’re welcome’ are not vital when children are emergent communicators, but as they become more competent and more interactive, use of those socially accepted niceties becomes important.



So, no matter how you’re supporting a language learner, remember to be a good model and to model specifically those skills the child needs to learn.



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