Donate now.

I have been networking with administration and staff of the Center for Spectrum Services since the mid-1980s. Among private providers, Spectrum Services administrators were known for the quality of their program. Attention to detail, whether it be in the design of their building or in developing unique programs for children, was an obvious priority.Steve Throne
Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Personnel, Pine Plains Central School District
How to increase Language Opportunities with Your Child

Submitted by Sandy Brownsey, Ellenville Coordinator

“He (or she) has words but seldom uses them.”  If you find yourself saying this sentence to describe your child, please read on.  At the Center for Spectrum Services you may have heard us say we use a “Verbal Behavior or VB approach”.   VB employs specific behavioral research on the development of language and is designed to motivate a child to learn language by developing a connection between a word and its value.  The key points here are: motivate and value. Think about yourself and if you were going to another country.  The words you’d want to learn would be the items that have the most value to you.
At home, encourage your child to use more language (words, signs, voice output, etc) by trying the following:

  • At the time your child is looking for a snack, give one favorite item at a time while you name the item, (ex., pretzel, goldfish, cheerio, etc.) Keep the bag readily in sight and look expectantly at your child for him/her to say the name of the item to get another.  Avoid the word: “more”.  Model the name of the item.


  • Now let’s say your child asks for, “ice-cream”.  You go to the freezer and take out the ice-cream container.  Then ask, “What else do we need?” as you hold up a spoon.  (The value of a spoon is important when you want to eat ice-cream).  Encourage the child to say, “Spoon”.  Next, you go to cabinet and hold up a bowl at the same time you ask, “Now, what do we need?”  Again, encourage your child to say the name of the item and give them the model of the word if needed.  You can see through this example that motivation for ice-cream lends itself for a lot of other valuable words.

Keep in mind that motivation for language is key. Try to apply this principle to other home routines as well.  Remember: multiple opportunities to practice language is vital to continued development.