Increasing expressive vocabulary through parental recognition

An update to the article by the authors published in issue 2(1) of Down Syndrome News and Update. It describes a simple technique for increasing expressive vocabulary in children with Down syndrome.

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Kotlinski, J, and Kotlinski, S. (2002) Increasing expressive vocabulary through parental recognition. Down Syndrome News and Update, 2(2), 77-77. doi:10.3104/practice.172

In addition to using audio/video tapes and books with our daughter we also developed a technique to help her extend her vocabulary and stimulate her expressive language. We called it "Oh! - That's A New Word!" It was very simple to do and made a dramatic difference in her spoken language. After a time, it was something she would initiate and which always produced the desired response from us.

If your child has a very limited vocabulary (less than 100 words) we suggest you use this method to help stimulate expressive language. You'll need a 8.5" by 11" sheet of paper taped to the refrigerator or other prominent place, a thick black marker and some blank 5" by 7" cards.

When your child says a new word or a word you have not heard for a long time, stop whatever you are doing and say in a very expressive way, "Oh! That's a new word! I have to write it on the list." Go to the refrigerator list and write down the word. Then use a black marker and print the word in lower case letters on a 5" by 7" card. Show and say the word one time to your child. Later in the day when you read to your child show him or her the card again and say the word.

Maria Kotlinski

What makes this method so effective is that when you hear a new word from your child, you stop what you are doing, get very excited about the word, praise your child and then go to your list to write down the word. Your actions will give your child positive feedback that you value his accomplishment.

Although things may be slow at the first, with time it can become a game for your child. He or she will listen for new words and more readily attempt to say the word himself in order to make Mom or Dad excited about another new accomplishment.