Requesting is a social communication skill that is often difficult for children with language disorders or children with ASD. We are going to focus on how to work on requesting at home within two different areas: food and toys. This blog focuses on FOOD!
We want to make sure that your child has natural requesting opportunities throughout their day. So think about how your house and your daily routines are set up. Does your child have to request food at meal times (some or all)? Think about how many meals your child eats with you per day? You want to aim to work on requesting at meal times two times a day. Working on requesting during snack time is a great idea. You don’t want every mealtime to be focused on requesting because that is not natural. Sometimes we get to pick what we want to eat and sometimes we don’t, Mommy or Daddy picks for us.
So now that your environment lends itself for your child to request, how do you work on requesting? Here are a few steps you can follow to help your child work on requesting:
Step 1: You will need visuals of the foods that your child can choose from: pretzels, animal cookies, crackers, drink, fruit, etc.
Step 2: During the mealtime show your child two pictures and say “grapes or fish?” Allow your child to look at the pictures. Here are the possible responses:
1. They may not make a choice. If this is the case, then take their hand and help them touch one of the pictures and say “grapes” and give them a grape.
2. If they reach/grab/point to one of the pictures, then say (model) “grapes” and give them one grape.
3. They may say both choices. In this case take their hand and help them touch one of the pictures and say (model) “grapes” and give them a grape.
Continue this throughout your snack time.
Step 3: Once your child begins to make choices when given two options without help, then provide them with three choices.
Step 4: Work on “more.” You will need a “more” visual. During the mealtime show your child the pictures and allow them to make a choice. Try to pick one food they love and one food they don’t like. On the second attempt, if they pick the same food item, place it on the “more” visual strip and focus on “more grapes.” Then you will point to the pictures and say (model) “more grapes.”
Step 5: Work on making choices and using “more” with all their food items.
Step 6: Once they have this skill down, you can work on them using your name such as “Mommy more grapes.” Use the same strategies as above but now you will model “Mommy more grapes” and point to those pictures.
Remember that every child learns differently. Some children may begin to use their words within days and others may take weeks and months. Also, if your child has snack during therapy or at school, talk to their teachers and therapists about using the same strategies.
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