The Language Fix

A blog for sharing language and learning information


July 2014

Three P’s: Parallel Talk, Play Therapy, and Priming

parallel talk – a great method for motivating children to talk without the frustration of high demand – the child is given opportunities to engage in activities that he finds interesting, while the caregiver talks about what the child is doing -the caregiver uses language that is at or just above the child’s level – often used in collaboration with self-talk

examples: for a child playing with a plane, say things such as, “You’re flying the plane. The plane is high. The plane is low. You gave the plane to me.”

play therapy – very useful for initiation, social language, turn-taking, sharing – can involve moving child from lower levels of play (such as banging or shaking toys) to higher (such as self directed play, play directed toward others, relational play, and symbolic play) – strategies are taught to caregivers, often involving allowing child to lead play, with adult redirection as necessary

priming – introducing topics beforehand – can involve stories, index cards, explanations, or anything that can quickly familiarize student with upcoming material – can occur immediately preceding the lesson, the prior morning, or the prior evening – especially effective when part of a routine

example: an autistic child’s anxiety increases in response to certain things, such as handwriting, so the morning activities are briefly explained to the child ahead of time each morning, including handwriting

ASHA Autism Conference

Looks like this conference will be focusing on Social Stories…

I just hope they mention a few other autism therapies while they’re at it – Such as the thirty or so on this list.

Two Great Points Concerning Weird Al’s Word Crimes

weird al

The author of this post from the Language Log blog, Ben Zimmer, makes three main points, two of which I really like.  (There’s nothing wrong with the other point, I just don’t think it’s as great.)  The points are in reference to the evident uproar in the linguistic community caused by Weird Al Yankovic’s Word Crime’s video.  The uproar has been caused by Weird Al’s suggestion to everybody who can’t use proper grammar – which is just about everybody – to obtain the services of a linguist for help.  Many linguists, to the contrary, have been fighting for years to get everybody to loosen up their prescriptive shackles, and focus on everyday, more casual language – as pointed out in this article.

The first great point is this:  “…the notion of “Proper English” typically serves to prop up the already-privileged speakers whose native language variety it is (sort of) based on. This puts speakers whose native language variety does not approximate “Proper English” at an immediate disadvantage in society, the same way that privileging Whiteness puts those who are not White at an immediate disadvantage in society.”

The second great point is… “that the view of “grammar” as “you must learn the rules or else be ostracized” just makes grammar no fun at all! Studying language—really digging into it, uncovering its remarkably complex yet orderly structure, investigating what makes it different across speakers and communities—is SUPER FUN! Giving people a list of rules of things to do in order to not be criticized is NOT FUN!”

Right on!

Mand-Model Approach and Milieu Teaching

(note:  this is another installment in an ongoing series on various language therapies)

Mand-Model approachThis is an extension of the incidental teaching model.  The mand-model approach involves the teacher or caregiver modeling and/or manding (requesting) a response from the child.  In modeling, sometimes known as child-cued modeling, the teacher or caregiver observes the focus of the child’s interest (e.g., a ball) and models the correct verbalization (e.g., “that’s a ball”).  If the child makes the correct verbal response the teacher or caregiver then praises the child and provides the object of interest.

example: child reaches for a candy – caregiver keeps candy out of reach, while saying “candy. Say, ‘Candy please!” – caregiver gives candy immediately if child requests, or after a time delay, while modeling correct request if child doesn’t request


Milieu Teaching -As a naturalistic, conversation-based teaching procedure, in milieu teaching the child’s interest in the environment is used as a basis for eliciting elaborated child communicative responses.  Milieu teaching includes other strategies, such as incidental teaching, mand-model, and time delay.  It is based on behaviorism, but rewards are from natural environment.  With incidental teaching the teacher waits for response, while mand-model requires asking (mands) for response.  While often the subject of research, few SLPs seem to actually claim to use milieu teaching.  Maybe it’s the odd pronunciation.

Literature Based Language Intervention

Literature based language intervention involves using books that do not specifically control for reading difficulty to address other skills, such as sentence structure, vocabulary and comprehension.  It saw increasing popularity in the 1980s and 1990s, when language therapy in general saw a shift from skills based intervention to “holistic” “collaborative” models.  Literature based language intervention is effective as one component of an overall approach, especially when the book is determined by the skill.

example: the therapist decides to work on questions, and so chooses the book, “Who’s Your Mommy?” which has repeating stack

Incidental Teaching and Interrupted Behavior Chains

Incidental Teaching – Incidental teaching overlaps or is often used interchangeably with manipulating the environment, naturalistic teaching, communication temptation, and milieu teaching.  It uses changing the environment, or changing the routine, to encourage initiation.

examples:  wear a hat, put the trash can on the table, instead of giving a pencil for a writing assignment give a ruler, walk past an intended door


Interrupted Behavior Chain – This is a type of communication sabotage, or incidental teaching.  A specific routine is identified that the child knows well, and one step is intentionally omitted – intended to elicit protests or requests.

example: child is taught to prepare her own breakfast by getting milk, cereal, spoon, as well as the steps involved – one day one step is “sabotaged,” for example the adult may place the box of cereal out of child’s reach

Graphic Organizers / Semantic Mapping

(note:  this is another installment in an ongoing series on various language therapies)

Graphic Organizers/ Semantic Mapping – I usually think of Venn diagrams, main ideas, and/or details when I think of these, but graphic organizers actually come in tons of different forms.  As opposed to many language therapies, graphic organizers are often for older students. These can be useful for organizing, learning, and/or remembering a variety of language skills, as well as writing, reading, math, etc.  Many great examples of graphic organizers can be found on the Internet, on sites such as and

Semantic mapping is basically using graphic charts to enhance vocabulary or semantic skills. It helps with word associations, categorization, characteristics, describing, and defining.


Venn Diagram
Semantic Map
Semantic Map
Click for blank Similarities and Differences Venn PDF
Click for Similarities and Differences Venn PDF


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