Understanding the language

Understanding language begins with the child feeling like an effective communicator and repeatedly experiencing that he has loving people around him who understand what he means when he uses his body to non-verbally express what is on his mind.

 Problems with understanding language

If your child has trouble understanding words, language, and what you are saying to them, you must first help them understand the MEANING of communication by reducing your language and focusing more on gestural communication, such as when:

  • Words imitated without meaningful meaning
  • Misinterprets what you say and responds in a way that doesn't make sense
  • does not react to what is said to it
  • seems confused and dysregulated

 Developmental strategies to help your child understand language:

  1. Look at what the child looks at
  2. Use your language in context, as the child will try to make sense of what is going on around them.
  3. use gestures and show him non-verbally what you mean to help the child understand, i.e. so that he can "see what he hears".
  4. reduce the complexity: Keep the language simple (but without distorting the grammar), i.e. avoid long sentences,
  5. maintain correct grammar, melody and fluency:_use correct language and not grammatically incorrect language, as this affects the meaning
  6. Repeat the corresponding language or words in meaningful ways (i.e., not for "teaching" or "testing") and in many different familiar situations.
  7. Match the language to the child's actions and feelings: Being playful works best, first with 1-1 sensory and action games (joint attention), later with toys (divided attention)
  8. Do what makes sense_and what you normally do with objects, e.g. don't turn the cup upside down, - until the child realizes that turning a cup upside down is a game
  9. and, very important: do it SLOWLY!!! Keep a slow/appropriate pace so the child can follow along and have time to process everything

More info on the topic?


Subscribe to my newsletter and receive my '10 key DIRFloortime playing techniques' in your email inbox for free.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

16 Key Strategies for DIRFloortime Play
FREE Download

I would like to receive your '16 Key Strategies for DIRFloortime Play' as a download and be added to your mailing list for occasional updates with relevant information. 


You have Successfully Subscribed!