I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone specifically teach functions. Well, maybe, but definitely it seems rare. Which is a shame, because functions are huge in expressive language and semantics specifically. If you want someone to be better at describing, one of the best things you can do is teach functions. And if you want somebody to be better at expressive language, one of the best things you can do is to work on improving describing. Just a little contemplation can reveal just how common functions are in describing. Filling in the blank in “What’s a _______?” for so many things requires a function for the answer.
What’s a refrigerator? It’s an appliance (category) that keeps food cold (function).
What’s a ruler? It’s something that measures length (function).
What are quotation marks? They’re a type of punctuation (category) that shows that somebody is saying something (function).
Come to think of it, maybe I need to do a blog post about how we should teach categories more too. Anyway, assessing for deficits in using functions are common in tests and screens such as the DIAL, the CELF, and the PLS tests, so it’s easy to figure out if a kid has difficulties in this area. Someday good language therapy will include teaching functions to kids we’ve identified as having function using deficits. Hopefully that day won’t be too far away.