#282 11 Skills Toddlers Must Use Before Words Emerge – #5 Develop Early Play Skills
Listen below to the 8th show in this series called “11 Skills Toddlers Must Use Before Words Emerge.” Today we’ll be talking about skill #5 which is developing early play skills.
Learning to play with toys and begin to use objects functionally is a skill that emerges along with first words so it’s an important marker.
Play is the best way to measure a child’s cognitive development. Cognitive skills include how a toddler thinks, remembers, and learns. Cognition is important for language because how a child “learns to learn” is the foundation for talking – both for understanding and then using words to communicate. During play when a toddler masters the very important early cognitive concepts such as object permanence, cause & effect, and simple problem solving, we know that he is learning more and more about how the world works and is much more likely to talk than a toddler who does not yet perform these skills.
As I stated in the earlier paragraph, in typical language development, a toddler begins to understand and use words around the same time (or shortly after) she acquires these 3 cognitive skills. I like to think about early play skills as going “hand-in-hand” with first words.
Experiences (which includes play) are how we teach a toddler EVERYTHING so we do have to work with some children to begin to teach them how to play with toys. Sometimes parents are surprised when they realize that the reason their child doesn’t play with toys isn’t because he doesn’t like toys. It’s more likely that he doesn’t understand HOW to play.
Listen to the show above for the better explanations of the 3 cognitive skills listed above and specific ways to work on those early play skills with late talkers. You’ll also hear me talk about the word “variety” and get some great ideas for helping a toddler who seems to be “stuck” in play make some progress toward expanding not only the different toys he plays with, but increasing the number of things he can do with a preferred toy.
On the show I forgot to mention one very important thing… sometimes a child doesn’t know he likes a toy until he’s actually played with it a few times. This means you may have to (gently and pleasantly) force him to do it at least a few times. I’ve had lots of children who didn’t play with toys begin to play with help and then independently, but only AFTER we helped (made!) them do it a few times. I’ll begin next week’s show by talking about this point and how this should look with toddlers. If you’d like to see some examples of me using this “pleasantly persistent” technique, check out my DVDs Teach Me To Talk, Teach Me To Listen and Obey, or Teach Me To Talk with Apraxia.
I also extended this topic for another week in #283 Part 2 for Early Play Skills. Listen here!
In case you’ve missed the other shows in this series, catch up here:
#275 Introduction Show – Why These Skills are Important
#276 Overview of Skills 1 – 5
#277 Overview of Skills 6 – 11
#278 Responds to Things in the Environment
#279 Responds to People
#280 Building an Attention Span
#281 Developing Joint Attention
Ready to move on…
Here’s the next show:
I hope you’re enjoying this series! Leave me a comment if you have a question. I’d love to hear from you!
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First, I would like to thank you for all you do for us moms who are lacking support in the autism community, and thank you for providing tons of information and resources to help our bright children. I myself benefited so much from watching your videos and reading your daily emails. I cannot stress enough how much all this information helped my toddler. Of course, getting an autism diagnosis for your child is extremely scary (she was diagnosed at 2 years old) and I was depressed and did not know what autism was, how it affected children, and how to teach children struggling with this condition. However, your videos helped me to find light in my child and now I am your biggest fan! I rewatch your videos over and over again to make sure I didn't miss anything that can help my daughter. I even purchase two books- Autism workbook and Teach me to Play. My toddler was completely non-verbal, she didn't know how to imitate, no eye contact, no pointing.. you name it she didn't have any skills and I didn't know how to teach her! And that is until I discover ed You- my toddlers (Fairy: smiling_face_with_3_hearts:)!
Now she is little sweet 2.5 years old and she says "mama" (I cried when she said that magic word), she waves bye bye or hi, she points, she gives "high 5", her joint attention is great and overall she is doing so much better! And that's all because I have been doing everything you described in your books and videos! I. My mind I always play "repetition, repetition and repetition", teaching her everything through play that she so much enjoys!!! I can write forever explaining how much I taught her through yr videos and books! And the most amazing thing is that her speech therapist is a big fan of yours as well so it worked out perfectly since we understand each other and work based on your teachings! The therapist even owns the same books I own ...I am so grateful that my toddler has such an amazing therapist; especially the one that understands autism and is ready for a real challenge! God bless you for all you do and I cannot wait for my toddler blossom.. you gave me hope and lit the light inside me. And I'm determined to work with my girl :)"
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Thank you so much for all your hard work and publishing books! Our 17-month-old toddler suddenly exploded into speaking and imitating everybody's gestures and sounds, just a week or two after we 'completed' all activities that are listed under 11 pre-linguistic skills! Your method really works!"
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"Hi Laura - I just wanted to say I received my copies of the Apraxia workbooks yesterday and I LOVED workbook 1 (not ready for 2). I'm on chapter 8 and going through the questions carefully so I'm prepared to help my son. I knew it was a great book when you acknowledged the fact that sometimes therapists and doctors don't bring a positive and supportive vibe when diagnosing. I remember being terrified at the mention of apraxia and ASD by both because they had these very concerned looks and made it seem like it was a death sentence. I know now (in LARGE PART, THANKS TO YOU AND YOUR VIDEOS) that it doesn't have to be!! I see a future for him now. You SINGLE-HANDEDLY, through your books and videos have empowered me to help my son after the doctors and therapists have gone home. You've given me strategies, play ideas, plans on how to keep moving forward. I don't always do things right, but I know I'm on the right track and I love that I can reference, and re-reference your books to help me keep going. As I was reading the book, I was so proud of myself because I've used strategies from your previous books and it felt good because I could check off a lot of the skills that you discuss. So, thank you for all your previous books as well!!"
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If this is Laura herself reading this email let me take this opportunity to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you have put forth for us professionals. I own every manual (except the autism manual) and have watched every course on DVD. I have listened to countless podcasts. All of what I’ve come to be as an Early Intervention speech therapist was absolutely to your credit. With your resources at my side I have never needed to scramble for answers and strategies and above all the clear language I use when communicating with parents. My fun, animated affect and key phrases I use have been learned through watching your example. So….thank you! May you be blessed."
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As a retired audiologist with a fabulous and language delayed grandson, I used your podcasts and outstanding publication, The Autism Workbook, to inspire and guide me over the past year.
It works!! He went from barely verbal, no gestures, didn't respond to his name etc etc to a verbal, social, curious, ready to imitate anything, fill in the blanks on familiar "set" speech, generate his own totally appropriate and mostly understandable sentences...not just short phrases anymore... full little paragraphs...about imaginary things, what he did during the day, what he wants. True communication!
You make a powerful difference in this world! ❤"
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I’m a parent who bought the autism workbook and it’s the only clear resource I found to make a change in my son. I’m really thankful to Ms. Laura for helping out people like us all over the world."
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Girl…my son is 3 years old, and he NEVER asks for something using words. We were playing “Get Your Belly” (from Teach Me to Play WITH You), and after several times, he laughed and screamed "BEWIEEE!!!" It was a hoot. And I can't believe he said it! I have played with him like this before, but this time I took your advice and acted CRAZY!! I will act like a total lunatic if it will get him to talk to me! Now I can give him "the look" from across the room, and he will say it. That manual is so amazingly practical, and it is a GODSEND right now! Thank you SO MUCH!”
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We still have so much work to do with our sweet boy, but I know in my heart he would not have succeeded without the education you provided. I will continue to read your emails & watch videos as we go along this journey and face challenges, but credit is due to you, Laura.
Thank you so much, endlessly."
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