For children with autism or developmental delays, communication can be difficult. Many children with autism spectrum disorders have difficulty developing proper language and communication skills. As such, this can lead to further difficulties managing in everyday life.
Though this can be overwhelming for many parents, there are many hopeful options to help improve your child’s communication and speech. Using effective speech therapy, your child can benefit from an individualized program to help them improve their communication skills.
At The Therapy Place, we aim to help parents like you learn more to open a world of possibilities for your child experiencing communication or speech concerns. Keep reading to learn more about how speech therapy can help!
What are “Wh” questions in speech therapy?
Understanding “Wh” questions start with understanding language development in children. “Wh” questions are questions that people ask to learn something, gather information, or communicate something. While every child is unique and different, average developmental timelines suggest most children will reach this milestone between the ages of one to two. However, for children experiencing developmental delays, this milestone is often delayed.
“Wh” questions can include asking or answering:
- “What” such what is that?
- About time using “when” such as when do you go to bed?
- “Why” such as “why is..?” questions
- “Where” questions about a place
- Asking or answering “how” questions
- Asking or answering “who” questions like who is that?
Why “Wh” Questions Are Important In Speech Therapy
It is an important developmental milestone for your child to begin asking these types of “Wh” questions. This is because many skills are required to achieve this milestone. To ask these questions, your child must understand the question words, the grammar of the questions, and the vocabulary required. Furthermore, they need to sense the context in which the question is asked.
These “Wh” questions are thought to be a first step in building the foundation for more complex conversations and communication milestones. “Wh” questions allow children to collect information about themselves and their surroundings. Often, children with autism spectrum disorders or other developmental delays are unable to under the social context of situations, leading to difficulties in asking these types of questions.
Examples of “Wh” Questions
“Wh” questions can look different from child to child. However, they generally have the following goals:
The goal of “what” questions are to ask about things. This could include questions like “what is that?”, “what are you doing?” and other questions where your child asks about the world around them.
The goal of “when” questions are all about asking about time. These questions from children often ask questions such as “when are you leaving?” or “when do we go to bed”?
The goal of “why” questions are to ask about the cause or reason behind things. For example, a child asking why questions questioning the world around them. This may include questions such as “why is the sky blue?” or “why do I have to sleep?”
The goal of “where” questions are to ask about the places around them. This is where your child will orient themselves to their surroundings. Common questions that use where include “where do cows come from?” “where do I sit?” or “where do you sleep?”
The goal of “how” questions are to ask about the manner or process in which something is done or completed. Children asking “how” type questions may ask “how much” about quantity, or “how is that done” type of questions.
“Why” questions are popular amongst children in this age range. They ask all about the people around them, perhaps their parents, siblings, or teachers. Examples of “who” questions include “who is that?” or “who is daddy?”
How “Wh” Questions are Taught in Speech Therapy
If your child is not asking or answering these types of questions, there is no reason to worry! Your child’s Therapy Place Therapist will work with them to identify where the problem lies. Often, children with developmental delays have varying reasons why they’re not asking or answering these questions. Some common reasons include:
- The child does not understand the grammar in the question.
- The child cannot give or formulate a response
- The child lacks the skills to put words together (syntax issues)
- The child does not understand the vocabulary used in a question
- The child cannot understand the social context of the question
After an evaluation by an expert speech therapist, an individualized plan to help your child can be created. The assessment of your child will allow the therapist to determine the areas where your child may need improvement.
Games and Activities Speech Therapists Use
Your child’s speech therapist will utilize age-appropriate games and activities to make sessions fun! These approaches and activities will depend on your child’s assessment and goals. For example, a speech therapist may use games, such as matching games, to help encourage the exchange of asking and answering questions. Other games may include bingo or other types of learning games. Other activities include using visuals to spark conversations and questions.
Practice “Wh” Questions at Home
Improving your child’s ability to answer “Wh” questions can go even further beyond their speech therapy sessions. There are many opportunities where you can work on these speech exercises at home or during everyday activities with your child. Ask your child questions by defining the meaning as you ask. For example, if you ask a “where” question to your child, be sure to remind them that “where means a place”. This repetition can help enhance your child’s learning.
For more creative ways to practice “Wh” questions at home, ask your speech therapist for a home plan! Speech Therapists are expertly trained and qualified to find ways to make learning positive and encouraging for your child. The goal is never to make children feel behind, but rather to help them get up to speed and improve their communication skills.
At The Therapy Place, we understand the concern and worry parents feel when they notice their child not reaching appropriate developmental milestones. Asking and answering “Wh questions” is an important stepping stone in your child’s communication skills. As a parent, the best thing you can do is recognize your child needs a leg up to help improve their conversation skills!
Early intervention for speech therapy sessions can greatly help your child improve their communication and speech skills. To get started, contact a qualified speech therapist at The Therapy Place, or sign up for our email newsletter to get more information, tips, and at-home exercises for your children.