When I realized that Korey was suffering from a speech delay one of the last things I worried about was teaching him manners. He barely understood what we were trying to say to him before we started speech therapy, how I was to expect him to grasp the concept of manners and using them when he couldn’t communicate? While taking speech therapy we have learned that he could understand the concept and how to use manners appropriately.
First you must establish how your child is able to communicate. For some it may be learning sign language, basic signs not going over the top and learning the alphabet. Or perhaps a combination of sign and the start of words, using a constant and vowel is how much speech delayed children begin using words. Last there is picture systems that you can use. Korey has a book with Velcro and pictures that he can choose to show us what he wants or needs.
Once you know the form of communication that your child is best at or the one that you are trying to work more on make sure you use that. Korey uses both speech, constant and vowel, and signs for the manner words we want him to use. Example: ‘Please’ would be ‘p-eas’ and the sign for please.
Repetition of when to use the word and when we expect it are also used throughout his day and especially in his therapies. If your child uses signs and is in early intervention therapies you should expect that all teachers know basic signs, if not they are always willing to learn in my experience. Demonstration from parents and others is vital, you don’t want your child just doing something for you and not exchanging that over when they need to in conversation with others.
Make sure that you are setting an example as well and using manners with your child. We are amazing role models for our kids even if they are delayed in something, they see us as someone who is fun to copy. Eventually they get the hang of when to use the manners appropriately. Just because a child may have a delay doesn’t mean that there isn’t a way for them to learn! One thing I have learned is to never give up on your child.