Friday, January 29, 2010

Green is For Talking Time!

Guest Post
by Tamara Pogin MA
Speech Language Pathologist

I have never met a parent who has NOT at one time or another had a child pulling on their leg and interrupting an adult conversation.  It is hard for children to learn how to NOT INTERRUPT.  These skills involves learning to WAIT and NOT TALK.  Here at the clinic, we are often teaching children how to WAIT.  Every therapist here can be seen holding two hands out, palms up, and wiggling all ten fingers while saying Wait, Wait at some time or another.  Kids almost inevitably imitate this sign for wait and signing the word gives the child something to do while waiting.  With children who have autism or ADHD we play a lot of waiting games to help children learn how to control the impulse to act as soon as a thought occurs.  All this is still not always enough to help a child who is waiting to talk.  If parents are on the phone or talking to a friend over coffee,  the waiting goes on for quite a while sometimes and it is helpful for a child to know how long he or she will need to wait.

I have been working with a family whose 8 yr. old child with Asperger Syndrome is really struggling with interrupting while a parent is on the phone or talking to another adult.  This child is old enough to know the parent does not want him to interrupt and old enough to help in a brainstorming session where we thought of things he could do while parents were in conversation.  However, in the moment, this child often decides that he really needs to say something "real quick" so he "does not forget"

Below is the visual support that we made to help him know how much longer he needed to "Keep it in his head".   Red means "I can't talk for a while so I should go do something to keep myself busy" Yellow means "I will be able to talk very soon, so I can wait right here" .  Green means "I should talk now because my parent is ready to listen."  This visual support is kept next to the phone since this is the most likely spot where the visual might be needed.  Mom or Dad move a clothes pin up or down the the visual support to tell the child how long he needs to wait and when he should talk.

This child can write, so if he wants, he has been told he has the option of writing a note to give silently to his parent so he "won't forget" what he was going to say.  If he is pretty sure he can remember, he has decided that he will go play with a toy when the clothes pin is on red.


Chicory Blue said...

This very topic is what I was discussing with a teacher about a preschool student today. I know interrupting and having trouble waiting a turn is typical for this age group it just seems "johnny" is having much much more difficulty than his peers-especially since he is Kindergarten eligible. In addition he needs you to respond to everything or he keeps repeating it.
Thank you for the ideas!

Karyn said...

Great idea! Do you mind if I borrow that visual? I have a child I am working with right now that could use this idea.

Sue said...

What a lovely, simple resource. I will share this with some of my parents this week. Have a great weekend.