Archive for February, 2010

I get lots of questions from parents about how to work on improving their child’s use of personal pronouns. It’s not unusual for children on the autistic spectrum to demonstrate what’s referred to as pronoun confusion or pronoun reversal. Since this is something that we work on a lot of Communication Therapy, I thought I would share some ideas that can be used to work on this skill at home:

  • Use visuals. Keep them posted around the house so you can easily reference them when needed. The visual to facilitate use of the pronoun “I” usually consists of an individual gesturing to himself or herself, paired with the written “I”.
  • Read Mercer Mayer’s “Little Critter” books with your child. These books are written in first person and consist of simple sentences of a repetitive nature. The stories are simple and often label emotions clearly. The pictures are not overwhelming and have a few reoccurring characters that children usually enjoy looking for on each page, which can also be used to model pronouns. For example, take turns finding the spider or cricket on each page and model self talk while you do so: “Okay, it’s my turn. I’m looking for the spider…I found him!”
  • Draw self portraits along with your child. These can be as simple as drawing stick figures and will allow for lots of clear modeling. Choose a part to draw and describe what you’re doing: “I’m drawing my hair. I have brown hair.” Gesture to yourself as you emphasize the word I. Repeat similar, simple sentences with each thing you draw (eyes, nose, legs, feet, etc.). If your child is confused by the concept of drawing themselves- they may want to draw you, as you’re doing- try having a picture of each of you to look at while you draw. This will help make it clear that you are each drawing yourselves.
  • Make a book for your child. You can use pictures of things they’ve done, places you’ve visited, pictures of friends and family members, or just things they enjoy. Narrate the book so it’s written from your child’s perspective. Again, keep the language simple and emphasize use of personal pronouns. It’s okay it if sounds repetitive; we learn from repetition.

If you have a chance to try any of the suggestions, please share and let us know how it worked for you! If you find ways to expand on ideas or come up with any new ones, please share those too!

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