Following Directions: Meaningful Tips
Even if you're not specifically working on following directions, almost all therapy -- speech, feeding, occupational, and physical -- can involve directions. And if you are working on following directions in sessions and at home, it can be both exciting and daunting. To make things easier, here are some tips for working on directions:
- Keep it simple. When giving instructions, try to make sure there are no distractions for your child. Routine, one-step directions are often the starting point for directions-based goals, and these can include "throw the ball" or "put the block on top."
- Keep it understandable. Make sure everything involved in the direction is something your child understands. If your child is still learning colors, a direction such as "show me the red ball" may be confusing.
- Keep it visual. Especially in early days, modeling the desired instruction can be really helpful for many children. Modeling and repetition are your friends.
- Keep it patient. In addition to modeling, giving your child plenty of time to react to an instruction can help them to process the command. Try counting to 5 after giving a direction, and use other expectation-based facial expressions - lifted eyebrows, open mouth -- to elicit a response.
- Keep it varied. As always, therapy can often work very well with preferred toys and activities, especially for new skills and goals. Specific goals using beloved toys is great for developing skills, but don't forget to involve other items and new contexts to build skills across environments.
For more tips on working on directions skills at home, speak with a Sidekick therapist today!
Paul Rice, M.S., CCC-SLP