Pausing can be such a valuable tool in our therapy sessions and throughout our interactions with others. If we are always quick to fill in the silence we may be taking away a child’s opportunity to smile, to reference us, to gesture or to vocalize to communicate. In a sense, we can rob him or her of a turn in the reciprocity of a social exchange.
Infants begin to learn to imitate us through facial expressions at an early age. They then begin to imitate banging two objects together and clapping. These skills are paving the way for imitation of sounds and later words.
If I am playing peekaboo with a child my hope is that he or she will begin to place the blanket on his or her head. Hearing the sound “boo” would be lovely too. Keep in mind that if I am talking through the entire exchange I am not giving that child the opportunity to fill in what they know. For our kids that are easily distracted visually, auditorily or both this is especially important to note that we do not need to talk through the whole exchange. Communication is a two way street and it starts young.
For our kids who have motor planning challenges or suspected apraxia of speech the power of pause is important. It may take a second or much longer to imitate or to fill in the expected sound or word. And why not?!?! It is hard!
Pause. Observe. Look for what motivates the child. Provide pauses within interactions, social games, and opportunities for communication. Your child may surprise you.