I’ve got a few new students this year who are just starting to be able to verbally imitate. They are just starting to imitate environmental sounds and I’m working on imitating simple vowels. They have a variety of disorders from autism to apraxia. After spending a ton of days writing progress notes and trying to explain in writing, how exactly I’m eliciting verbal imitation, these 5 things popped out to me. I thought I’d make a quick run-down of some strategies I’m using here:
- Run. For some reason, these kids are all super motivated by playing “chase”. We go out into the hallway and play “stop and go”. For any sound at all, we “go”and I shape it into an “o” mouth position.
- I love this little cause/effect app. It’s called Make it Pop. When I went to tag them here I realized they are no longer making the app. You can use any firework app for this task though and there are lots of free ones! I really don’t use apps that often for this age, but if you’ve got a kiddo who is super into the iPad, use this app and get in from of a mirror. This version of the app has lots of things to “pop”, including popcorn, bubbles and fireworks! We practiced by saying “oohhh” and “ahhh” for the fireworks! Make sure you’re emphasizing the oral movements in the mirror!
- I always focus on getting imitation in play before I focus on getting verbal imitation. You can have them imitate silly play like flinging a car off a table or make it more gross motor in nature.
- I also love using music for verbal imitation. We can pair it with motions and make it really fun.
- I recently went to a Nancy Kaufman training at my state conference and she showed a video of a BCBA having a child imitate physical movements (tap your head, clap your hands) and then after a while adding verbalizing into the sequence. She did it really quickly and the task became just another copy/movement. They were using the skills with children with autism spectrum disorder and I’ve tried it a few times and loved it! I have used it with kids with ASD and kids with developmental delay. In her video, the BCBA continued the sequence over and over but when I’ve done it, I quickly move into a focus on the verbal back and forth play!
These are just a few quick tips I’ve been using to get verbal imitation in my young preschoolers. If you’ve got other EBP articles to point me to for verbal imitation, please comment and share them with us!
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