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Encouraging the Use of Meaningful Language

Tips for encouraging language development in young children with visual impairment and additional needs

scarlettScarlett is a great communicator, and the lack of spoken word does not stop her from expressing what she wants! Whether she evokes an emotion or leads you to a certain place, she knows how to get your attention.
Despite this I am desperate to give Scarlett a fully functioning, developmentally appropriate use of language.  The majority of my efforts have been placed in that area, as too have her new school’s, and I must admit it is paying off.
Scarlett has become mummy’s little parrot and attempts to repeat every word presented to her.  Much to my delight the more praise you show for the use of a certain word really pays off when Scarlett selects which delectable verbal delight she surprises us with everyday….

My Favorite: “I love you”!

My efforts wouldn’t have been nearly as effective if it weren’t for the great input Scarlett’s new school The Seashell Trust, her progress is wonderful and she is flourishing into a lovely young lady everyday ☺  

Report from School Program

Here is a report from Scarlett’s SALT of how she has been working with Scarlett to model all this new lovely language:
“I work with Scarlett at least once a week, usually a Thursday between 10 and 12 but have done other sessions during the week when it has been appropriate, I have also passed on advice to our Therapy Assistant Ben on how to support her language development during rebound and hydro so this is also included during her sensory sessions too.


She had a ricecake during snack and when she had finished one , she then requested ‘ricecake’ again. This time I broke a bit off and placed it on her plate, I then modelled ‘all gone’ and supported her to feel the empty plate, she then repeated rice cake again so another piece was given, I repeated showing her the empty plate with the phrase ‘all gone’ to help her develop an association of the word and what it meant. When she had finished I informed her ‘snack has finished’, she responded with ‘outside’!!!That was fantastic! She hadn’t done this before but has obviously made the link that after snack she goes outside and has learnt the word. She is learning all these new words so quickly!
This has been the method that I have been using, so lots of modelling of an item or activity, eg if Scarlett is jumping, we model ‘jump’, ‘jumping’.
Last week she got the class ‘WOW’; during our session the week before half term I had wanted to teach her the word ‘music’ to extend the ‘again’ that she often uses to request more of something as this will increase her ability to make choices and requests. Myself and Sue spent the session with her favourite pop songs on and I would model the word ‘music’, ‘listening to music’, I then paused the music and waited for Scarlett to request to have it back on, she did this by saying ’again’, each time she said ‘again’, I would model ‘music’ and put the music back on. After about 20 minutes of lots of stop/start and Scarlett saying ‘again’. She gave a long pause and then said ’music’!!! We were so proud and gave lots of praise.  We repeated the session last Thursday and she had remembered to say ‘music’ instead of again and since then when there is music on and we stop it she now correctly says ‘music’ and sometimes ‘again music’.  This is fantastic progress and she is certainly learning the words to new things all the time!”

Transfering Skills from School to Home


Scarlett has transferred all the skills and language learnt in school to the home and this gives my daughter a new found independence and drive.  It has improved interaction with her brother Sonny as they are able to communicate now.  He too praises Scarlett when she uses language.  I would recommend praise as a great motivator for language use and works very well with Scarlett.
The most noted improvement I have found is that she has transferred her language into story time at bed.  I find Scarlett responds very well to the stories that I create myself, I can use familiar names, activities and locations to increase Scarlett’s interest in the story I am telling her.  Much to my delight she has begun to insert her names, locations and sound effects into my stories, like she is creating the tale herself.  This displays great memory and is helping Scarlett to use her imagination.  Although the names are limited to “mummy, Scarlett and Sonny”, she has added the activities “trampoline and bath”, and locations “beach and forest”. Scarlett is becoming independently creative with storytelling.  I couldn’t be prouder of my clever little girl!
meaningful language collage



Colored illustration of animals with alphabet letters A, B, C, D
Activity and strategy

Alphabet Objects


Ideas for Teaching Tracking and other Tactile Skills

Standardized tactile symbol for washing dishes
Tips and guides

A Standard Tactile Symbol System: Graphic Language for Individuals who are Blind and Unable to Learn Braille