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Strategies to support talking (KS2+)

Many young people with communication difficulties have difficulty explaining their ideas or retelling a sequence of events, for example, what happened at lunchtime. These young people need adult support to communicate their ideas in conversations, and to develop strategies to support their ability to recall and explain ideas when socialising, and in education or employment.

Visual support

a drawing of a comic strip conversation

an example of a comic strip conversation

Give the young person a pen and paper so that they can learn to ‘back up’ what they are trying to communicate with visual supports.

Use comic strip conversations to draw out sequences of events and stories – break it down into ‘parts’ of the story and add speech bubbles and thought bubbles to break down what people were thinking, saying and feeling.

Asking for information

widgit showing one person asking for information

Here are some strategies you could try:

  • Give the young person time to think about and plan what they want to say – waiting is ok!
  • Avoid broad questions such as ‘what happened?’ Instead break down complex topics and events into simpler components. For example:
    • “Who was there?”
    • “Where were you?”
    • “When did it happen?”
    • “What did you do?”
    • “What did they do?”
    • “What did you say?
    • “What did they say?”
    • “How did you feel?”
    • “How did they feel?”
    • “What happened next?”
  • Use sentence starters to support the young person to explain their thoughts, for example, “You knew it was your science lesson. You went outside because..?”, “If Jack knew that had happened, he would feel..?”
  • Repeat back what you have heard so that the young person can think of the next part, for example,  “so you knocked on the headteacher’s door…”
  • Repeat back and emphasis correct grammar when you notice an error, for example, “First I caughted the ball”, adult: ‘ah so first you caught the ball’
  • Ask the young person to describe or show if they can’t think of the word
  • Repair the conversation if the young person’s story is coming out a little jumbled by:
    • Recapping what you’ve understood
    • Pausing to see if they can complete the story
    • Manage the confusion and ask clarification questions if needed

For more information please contact the Speech and Language Therapy Service at Flockton House on 0114 226 2333

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: SL241

Resource Type: Article

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