Step 4 Practice the New Way of Communicating

How to practice:

• Model for your child the more appropriate phrase or nonverbal signal he or she can use to communicate needs or desires.

• Have your child practice the new phrase or behavior before the situation in which it is likely to be needed takes place.

• During the situation, remind (prompt) your child to use the new phrase or behavior.

Vincent had a habit of shoving peers when they approached a toy he was playing with on the playground. His mother taught him to say, "I'm playing with this now. You can have it when I'm done." To help Vincent learn how to use this skill, she modeled the behavior, having Vincent approach her and try to touch a toy she was using. Next, she helped him do the same as she approached his toy. Then she accompanied him to the playground and observed him as he played near other children. When she saw a situation arising in which Vincent was likely to hit a peer, she reminded him to say the phrase they had practiced. When Vincent used the phrase, she made sure that the peer responded positively by ceasing his or her request for the toy. Finally, she talked to Vincent's teacher about using the same procedure in the classroom and at recess, so that they would all be addressing his inappropriate behavior consistently. The teacher agreed to practice using the phrase with Vincent at school and follow up by prompting him whenever necessary.

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