Currently my son likes to listen to friends having a conversation, but he does not even think that he can make a comment and be a part of the conversation. Do you have any game ideas of how to help him improve conversation skills and get in on the conversation?
-Vira, Son-Rise Mom
Conversations skills are a very exciting skill to work on since it takes language to more sophisticated and social level. I suggest doing this in two phases. Phase I would begin by you creating the space for your son to include his comments into a conversation and phase two would be allowing him to initiate these opportunities.
1. Phase 1: Make a stack of 5-10 cards and write a question on each card to spark a conversation topic that your child will likely be interested in (what is your favorite game and why? etc.). Invite a family or team member into the playroom with you and your child. Explain that you will take turns picking a card, talking about that topic and then passing it to the next person. Once the next person is holding the card, s/he he can answer the question. Continue passing the card until each person has had a chance to answer the topic question. Then the next person can pick a new card. By passing a topic card around, you are able to demonstrate in a clear way that your child has a part in the conversation and when it is his turn to participate. Continue this game until you have gone through all the cards.
2. Phase II. Once your child has shown that he is able to do phase I fairly consistently you can move on to phase II. This phase is designed to help your child understand and initiate coming into the conversation in a more natural way. Invite another team/family member and using the same stack of cards (or make new ones of different topics) take turns picking a card. Then freely (although slowly) discuss your comments. Leave clear pauses for the other team member or your son to add their comments as well. If this is still challenging for your child, you can come up with a cue (like pointing to him) to let him know this is a good time to chime in. The idea is that over time, your child will understand the natural ebb and flow of a conversation and when he can be a part of it. The topic card also can help him add to the conversation while staying on topic.
It is also important to really celebrate your son for any contributions he does make to the conversation (such as “Wow- that is so interesting that you like to play Bingo!)
Vira, have fun helping your son develop an exciting and sophisticated new skill of jumping into a conversation!
-Tali Field Berman, certified Son-Rise Program Teacher
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