As public school autism program teachers, we often struggle with how to teach non-vocal students. These students typically have limited ability to accurately vocally imitate sounds and words and most of their attempts to talk are unclear to an unfamiliar listener.
Pairing words with the delivery of reinforcement will ensure that all items and activities continue to come as a result of interacting with others and may lead to the development of vocalizations with some children.
Please watch Deanne turn feeding a puppy puppet into an opportunity to teach Matthew that interacting with others can be fun! She pairs words with the delivery of reinforcement by presenting the item/action out of reach while saying its name. Deanne will do this up to 3 times, making sure to deliver the item immediately if Matthew attempts to vocalize at any point. This will teach him that talking is valuable! As you will see, both Matthew and Deanne are having a great time “feeding” the puppy!