So I asked Woodjie's teacher for a little help, to show me some practical ways I can work with him at home. For now (to start with), we're doing a little program. The teacher brought this BEAUTIFUL laminated green sheet and big velcro buttons. She also brought some picture cards, but I have cut them smaller and laminated them because um, I like to give chocolate milk-free frosting, other foods or play-doh and that sort of thing as a reward for good work.
Want to read about what I do with Woodjie each weekday? Ok. A word of explanation. Each of these cards has a symbol on the front. For example, "eat" is shown here. Another has an injured arm with an arrow for "boo boo." We want Woodjie to do his best job repeating after Mom or Teacher. If he can't say "boo boo," can he say "buh buh?" If not, "boo" might be easier. And so on down the list until you get to the simplest to say, "buh." I've seen Rose's speech teacher use this approach as well, which I was highly surprised about. You'd think teaching a child to say "yeh-yeh" instead of "yellow" if "yellow" is too hard would reinforce baby talk, but that's not the current thinking. The current thinking is that you reinforce that she can make these words and improve on them as she develops more control.
The buttons up top are, of course, little tokens. We start off with Woodjie only needing to earn one or two before he receives his "reward" for a few minutes (a timer can be used to limit the break, so you can get back to work with the next round). Eventually, he will get through the whole stack of cards for a button, five times over.
Or better still, eventually he will speak so much that we will need more difficult cards. The key is to find a reward that the child wants. With Woodjie, this can literally change minute to minute (this has been remarked upon several times by school staff). I am working to get together a small bin of rewards, but for right now, Woodjie thinks that chocolate frosting in a spray can is super-yum, even if was scary to see the frosting pop out at first. Now, it's joyously wonderful! Yay for frosting! Yay for Woodjie!