Communication is rooted in our ability to listen and respond to one another’s verbal cues. We answer questions, follow directions, and voice our own opinions by listening to others who, in turn, listen to us. For those with autism spectrum disorder, language skills like listener responding may develop more slowly or need language skills training to develop. It can be difficult for those struggling with receptive language to follow directions, engage in conversations, and build meaningful connections. This may lead to isolation, non-responsiveness, and self-harm later in life. Through building listener response skills at home and school, children and their families can grow and support one another while strengthening communication skills.
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The Importance of Listener Responding Skills
Listener responding skills, also called LR, focus on a child’s ability to listen and take action. This may be as simple as pointing to an apple on the counter when the speaker says “apple” or picking out a child’s own socks from a basket of clean laundry. LR skills focus on a child’s ability to follow directions. Early in life, this ability helps build foundational life skills such as good hygiene, public safety practices, and following orders of operations for cooking, laundry, and visiting a store, bank, or library. Strong listener responding skills allow a child to develop expressive response skills, learning to self-advocate and engage in conversation.
Some children may struggle with listener responding but appear to understand directions by picking up keywords and visual cues. For these children and more obvious struggles with LR, it’s important to begin practicing listener responding skills at home to build a strong foundation of language skills.
Humans are social creatures, and one of the best ways to develop communication skills is to be surrounded by people who are communicating. Being around others is so important for the developing brain. A few ideas include Gymboree, parent meet-up groups, and walking clubs.
Practice Listener Responding At Home
Practicing LR at home or in the outer world is an easy way to strengthen communication and build bonds with your child. Here are some great ways to build listener responding skills together:
Give Simple Directions
Whether your child is helping you bake their favorite treat or plant seedlings in the garden, giving simple directions to tasks builds receptive identification and allows you to see gaps in their understanding.
Talk While You Shop
Go shopping in your own kitchen. By pretending to shop in your own kitchen, you can practice listener responding skills and life skills as your child learns to identify different ingredients for recipes.
Games are easy ways to practice listener responding, communication, and teamwork.
Reading together fosters all aspects of language learning. By reading aloud and asking your child to point the pictures and words in a book you can foster a love for storytelling and language while practicing listener responding skills.
Developing listener responding skills doesn’t need to be a chore. With simple games, play, and daily practice you and your child can strengthen your relationship while growing their language skills.
Register for aba|tools for More Information
The aba|tools app provides parents, teachers, and therapists with applied behavioral analysis tools to meet their child’s language skills needs anywhere the app goes. Our library of digital language development content serves parents, teachers, and therapists with clinician-developed tools to meet each child’s needs. Founded by a BCBA, aba|tools is an adaptable app focused on verbal behavior for receptive and expressive language development. To begin applied behavioral analysis training from your phone or tablet with aba|tools, register today.