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How to Talk to Children Who Are Learning to Talk

Published: Feb 12, 2021
It's natural to simplify our language when speaking to children who are just learning to talk. But is it possible to simplify language too much? See what the research says about the kind of language that works best to help children learn.

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Making New Words “Stick”

Published: Jan 6, 2021
Children with language delays often need extra help to develop an understanding of a new word and to be able to use that word on their own. Here are some tips parents can use to make word learning easier for their child.

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Tips to Build Vocabulary: Repeat Words That Match Your Child’s Interests

Published: Dec 14, 2020
If your child is just starting to talk, you might be wondering how you can help him learn new words. Here are some tips for identifying the best words to help your child learn and highlighting those words most effectively.

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Three Keys to Helping Your Child Learn Language

Published: Nov 24, 2020
There are many techniques you can use to help your child learn language, but which ones are the most effective? Discover the three key things you can do during any activity with your child to give his language learning the biggest boost.

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Does Telling Children to Say Words Build Their Vocabulary?

Published: Oct 14, 2020
If you've ever tried to help your child learn a new word by telling him to say it, you're not alone! But does this tactic actually work? What does it really take to help your child understand a new word and use it on his own?

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Moving Hanen Parent Programs Online!

Published: Aug 5, 2020
With the aim of reaching as many families as possible, The Hanen Centre has come up with creative ways to use technology to help more families support their child’s communication development. In this article, we explain how this new way of providing parent-implemented intervention – known as “telepractice” – is proving to be invaluable as many in-person services are limited or prohibited due to COVID-19.
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Talking to Young Children with ASD Matters, New Study Shows

Published: Jul 2, 2020

According to a new study, very young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder who hear more words and have more back-and-forth conversations with their parents tend to have better language skills at age two. In this article, we share how you can encourage conversations.

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COVID-19: How Educators Can Build Interactions While Balancing Precautions

Published: Jun 17, 2020

Here at The Hanen Centre, we have spent a couple of decades building programs and creating books to help educators create the best possible interactions that build language, communication and literacy for all children in their classroom. With the novel coronavirus outbreak forcing society to adapt in unprecedented ways, we've been discussing how those same strategies can be adapted in the time of social distancing.

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How to Build a Strong Foundation for Your Child's Language Skills

Published: May 27, 2020

Your child’s language foundation is the key to his success as a communicator. It’s upon these back-and-forth interactions that the rest of his language skills are built. So how can you give your child the chance to develop a strong foundation for his communication skills?

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‘Springboards for Learning’ Early Experiences Launch Children’s Development Forward

Published: Apr 28, 2020

A new study by researchers shows that a home environment that is rich with language and learning jumpstarts children’s skills and has benefits that can be seen until at least Grade 5. In this article, we explain the results of the study and how you can help your child's learning.

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Tap into Your Child’s Natural Way of Learning Language

Published: Feb 10, 2020

By age six, the average child understands about 10,000 words! This amazing feat happens by children picking out patterns in the language they hear every day. For children with language delays, they have more difficulty picking out these patterns in language. In this article, we share some tips on how you can help your child find patterns during your everyday interactions.

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Common Questions about Questions

Published: Jan 20, 2020
As a parent, you probably use questions as a way to encourage your child to talk and help him or her have little conversations with you. In this article, you’ll find answers to some questions you might have about how to use questions effectively to build your child’s language and conversation skills.
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Supporting Children’s Vocabulary and Thinking in a Magic Potion Laboratory: A Reflective Conversation Between Educators, a Speech-Language Pathologist and a Linguist

Published: Dec 31, 2019
This is a collaborative article where representatives from three different professions reflect on how teachers can intentionally create opportunities for extending children’s thinking and supporting vocabulary development.
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Four Tips for Helping Children with Autism Make Eye Contact

Published: Oct 14, 2019
Eye contact is an important part of sending and receiving messages and being able to connect with people. But eye contact is only meaningful for children if it happens during natural conversations and interactions. Here are some tips you can use to encourage your child to look at you during fun, everyday conversations and activities.
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Helping Verbal Children with ASD Grow Their Language Skills

Published: Oct 4, 2019
Did you know that you and your child have a big influence on each other’s language? If your child has Autism Spectrum Disorder, you can help him learn language by being one step ahead. In this article, we describe what it means to be a step ahead in the conversation and how this paves the way for your child’s language development.

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Choosing a Preschool That Encourages Language Learning: What Should You Look For?

Published: Sep 9, 2019
Children’s language learning skills are influenced by the people they interact with everyday. As these are the skills that prepare them for kindergarten and future school readiness, it is important to choose a preschool environment that encourages children’s language growth. Find out what you should look for when choosing a preschool for your child.
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Use “Thinking and Feeling Words” to Build Your Child's Communication Skills

Published: Jul 10, 2019
While children’s first words tend to be about concrete things like objects and actions, they soon go on to learn more abstract language about thoughts and feelings. Find out why this kind of language is so important for both social and academic success, and what you can do to promote it during your daily interactions with your child.
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Literacy in the Early Years: What Children Need to Learn and How You Can Help Them Learn It

Published: Jun 18, 2019
One of the key ways to prepare young children for school success is to build their emergent literacy skills – the skills required before a child begins to read and write. What are the key emergent literacy skills young children need to learn, and what are some of the research-based ways we can support them?
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New Research Reveals the Power of Pretending

Published: May 13, 2019
Joint attention and gestures are key skills that allow children to progress with their language development. In fact, they lay the foundation for children’s first words. So, what kind of interactions are best for nurturing these abilities? A new study reveals that Pretend Play is an excellent way for children to practice these important early communication skills.
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Creating More Opportunities for Interaction with Children on the
Autism Spectrum

Published: Apr 22, 2019
This Autism Awareness Month, we had the chance to share some very practical information on creating the best opportunities for children with autism to interact. Whether you’re a parent or a professional, these resources can help you lay the foundation for the kinds of enjoyable interactions that help children connect, have fun, and learn new social skills.
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Timing Is Everything When It Comes to Taking Turns with Your Child

Published: Mar 14, 2019
In order to help young children learn language and have conversations, it’s really important that they learn about taking turns. Here are some tips on the best ways to help your child take turns, and what to keep in mind if your child has a language delay.
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Why Self-regulation Is Important for Young Children

Published: Feb 12, 2019
Did you know that your child's ability to self-regulate is directly related to his language learning, as well as many other areas of his development? Find out why this skill is so important and what sort of things might affect your child's ability to self-regulate.
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Do Late Talkers “Grow Out of It?”

Published: Jan 28, 2019
A Late Talker is a toddler under 30 months who has a small vocabulary for his or her age, but is developing typically otherwise. It’s easy to assume that these children don’t need extra help because many of them seem to catch up on their own. However, a look at the research tells us that this may not be the case.
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It's Never Too Early to Have Conversations with Your Child

Published: Jan 14, 2019
To learn language, young children need to do much more than just hear their parents use words -- they need to engage in back-and-forth conversations, even if they're not yet using words or sentences. What does an "early conversation" look like, and how can you make sure you're having them with your child as often as possible?
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Late Talkers... What We Know, and What We Don't

Published: Dec 14, 2018
Are all Late Talkers alike or are some at greater risk than others for ongoing language delays? Do late-talking children need extra help or do they just catch up on their own? Looking at what research tells us about Late Talkers can help us decide if a child needs extra support.
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Helping Children Who Use Echolalia

Published: Nov 5, 2018
If your child uses echolalia, it can be tricky to figure out what he’s trying to tell you. But by using some specific interaction techniques, you can discover what he might be trying to say more easily, and also help him learn other ways to communicate his message.
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3 Things You Should Know About Echolalia

Published: Oct 29, 2018
There are many reasons a child with autism might use echolalia. While it may be difficult to figure out what your child is trying to say when he uses echolalia, learning a little bit about this kind speech can help you figure out the meaning behind his message. Here are three things you need to know about echolalia.
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Helping Children Develop Language for Thinking and Learning

Published: Sep 26, 2018
If your child already uses short sentences and understands simple questions, he’s now ready for you to help him take the next step in his language journey – understanding and using “decontextualized language” or “language for thinking and learning”. Here are some practical tips for helping your child develop this important language skill.
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Moving Beyond the “Here-and-Now”: Using Language for Thinking and Learning

Published: Sep 18, 2018
To be prepared for school, children need to be able to understand and use a specific kind of language called "decontextualized language" or "language for thinking and learning". Learn more about what this kind of language is and how it sets the stage for academic success.
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The "Super Skill" for School Readiness

Published: Aug 23, 2018
We know that having strong early skills in areas like math and literacy predicts children's success in those areas later on. But imagine a skill that predicts not only its own success, but the success of many other academic and social skills as well. Does such a "super skill" exist?
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How to Help Your Child Use Early Sentences

Published: Aug 14, 2018
Most children start combining words into sentences somewhere around 30 months old, though this may happen a bit later for children with language delays. Whether your child is typically developing or has a delay, there are specific ways you can talk to your child to encourage this big step in language development.
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Early Sentences — A Big Step in Language Development

Published: Aug 9, 2018
It’s a major milestone in language development when children start to combine words, like “big bus”, “I want cookie”, or “come Mommy.” This big step allows children to express more than one idea at a time, and it suddenly becomes easier to figure out what they’re trying to tell us! Find out how early sentences develop and when you can expect your child to start using them.
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Strengthening Your Child’s “Control Centre”: How Bilingualism Boosts Executive Functioning

Published: Jul 5, 2018

New research shows a happy side effect of bilingualism in young children – better executive functioning skills. Find out why these skills are important and how a second language can give them a boost.


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The Power of Turn-taking: How Back-and-forth Interactions Help Children Learn Language

Published: May 15, 2018

Having a back-and-forth conversation with a child may seem like a small thing, but it turns out it’s everything when it comes to helping them learn language.  A new study has shown a strong connection between turn-taking and a child’s brain development and language skills.  Find out what makes high quality interactions so powerful and how you can make them happen with your child.

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Encouraging Joint Engagement with Children with ASD

Published: Apr 6, 2018
Joint engagement happens when an adult and child interact together while focusing on the same object. Research shows a strong link between a child's communication development and the amount of time they spend in joint engagement with adults. Find out how you can encourage joint engagement with children on the autism spectrum during fun, everyday interactions.
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You Are Your Child’s Best Toy!

Published: Mar 22, 2018

For children with language delays, one of the best contexts for learning language is during “people games” – games you play with people and not toys. Find out why, and what you can do during people games to maximize your child’s language learning.

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Spotlight on Australia - Make the Most of Your Child's NDIS Funding

Published: Mar 20, 2018

The NDIS is now putting parents in the driver’s seat when it comes to choosing services for their child. But did you know that you can also be in the driver’s seat when it comes to supporting your child’s language development?

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Build Your Baby's Understanding: Match What You Say to What's Happening in the Moment

Published: Feb 2, 2018

Babies’ understanding of language begins long before they start to talk. Though they may not be ready to say words, building their understanding is an essential step on the path to language development [1]. As a parent, there are many things you can do to support your baby’s understanding and build a solid foundation for her to use words later on.

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What’s the Point of Pointing?

Published: Jan 16, 2018

Pointing is much more than just one of those cute things that babies do! It marks a huge milestone in a child’s development. Read on to find out why and what you can do to encourage your child to point.

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Building Early Literacy Skills in Children with Autism or Social Communication Difficulties

Published: Jan 8, 2018

Emergent literacy skills are the building blocks of learning to read and write. These early skills are essential for all children to learn, but can be particularly important for children with autism or social communication challenges.

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The Power of Parents in Autism Intervention

Published: Oct 12, 2017

Parents are now considered the "partners" of speech-language pathologists. The two work together to make therapy an ongoing process for the child, with the parent learning how to encourage the child's communication during daily routines and activities. But what about parents of children with autism spectrum disorder, who sometimes find it difficult to catch their child’s attention or engage them in an activity? If parent-implemented intervention relies on interaction between the parent and child, can it still work if the parent is struggling to interact and engage with their child? Find out what the most recent research says.

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Parents’ Role in Language Intervention

Published: Aug 31, 2017

For most children, seeing a speech language pathologist once per week isn’t enough time to develop language skills. In fact, it’s hard to learn any new skill if it’s only practiced for one hour per week. But if you work together with your child’s speech language pathologist, you can come up with goals and activities that you can do at home during your everyday life that will make a huge difference in your child’s language learning. Ultimately, you can provide language intervention every day, many times a day, as you go through your daily routines.

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Make Book Reading a Time for Conversations

Published: Jul 31, 2017

Reading books with your child is a great opportunity to have conversations – something that’s both enjoyable and important. After all, conversations about books are known to boost a child’s language skills and future reading ability, among other things. In this article, we share some strategies to help you make book reading a time to talk and boost your child’s literacy skills as you have fun together!

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iPad = I Don’t Talk: The Effects of Young Children’s Screen Time

Published: Jun 27, 2017
Electronics are a part of life for all of us these days including young children. However, while screens can be helpful in the right context (like devices that help children communicate), they can actually decrease word and sentence use in toddlers when used only for entertainment. In this article, we examine new research on screen time and toddlers, and suggest ways to build communication skills using the screen time that your toddler gets.

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How to Help Your Child Learn New Words

Published: May 26, 2017
Research shows that toddlers who know a lot of words often have more success in school later on – so having a large vocabulary at a young age is very important! In this article, we review the typical milestones for infants who are learning new words, and explore some proven strategies to help you boost your child’s vocabulary – whether or not she has a language delay.
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Making Sure Children Get Their Daily Dose of Language Nutrition

Published: Mar 15, 2017
We hear a lot about the importance of nutrition, and while healthy eating is always essential for growing children, there’s another type of nutrition that we haven’t heard enough about – language nutrition, or the interactions that help kids develop. Experts recently explored over 100 studies and narrowed down the key parts of language nutrition. Read more about their insights and discover how you can give your child the language nutrition he needs to grow.
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Baby Babble: A Stepping Stone to Words

Published: Feb 14, 2017
Baby talk might sound like gibberish to most people, but it’s actually an essential part of a child’s development. The way your child babbles, and the way you respond, is key to understanding how he’ll communicate in the future. Learn more about babbling, why it matters, how you can use it to help your child learn language, and what to do if he starts babbling late.
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Helping Children with Language Delay Develop “Theory of Mind”

Published: Jan 16, 2017
Developing theory of mind (the ability to understand that different people can have different thoughts and beliefs) is an important part of any child’s development. Without theory of mind, children can have trouble taking turns, making friends, having conversations or understanding the perspectives of others. Discover how you can help your child develop theory of mind and “tune in” to the people in his life.
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Which Toys Work Best for Supporting Interactions with Your Child

Published: Dec 8, 2016
Have you ever noticed that some toys make it harder to start an interaction with your child than others? You’re not alone. New research shows that the type of toy you and your child play with can actually change your interactions. Find out what toys you can use to encourage conversation and why book reading is still the most effective way to introduce language to your child.

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Helping Young Readers in a Digital World

Published: Nov 30, 2016
Which do you prefer, reading on a screen or on paper? Do you think there’s a difference in how much you retain between the two mediums? In light of the increasing use of screen-reading (tablets, e-readers, phones etc…), it’s crucial to understand how screen reading impacts readers. In this article, we look at what research has to say on how technology may be shaping children’s reading habits and what this means for emergent readers…
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New Information About Why Early Intervention is Key for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Published: Oct 18, 2016
We’ve heard a lot about early intervention when it comes to children with on the autism spectrum. But why is it so important to start helping these children as early as possible? Discover the research behind early intervention and find out why children should start learning language as early as possible.
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Helping Children Learn English as a Second Language

Published: Aug 26, 2016
Parents often wonder how they can help their child learn English as a second language, but they often already have all the tools they need – the types of parent-child interactions that help children learn their first language can help them learn their second language as well. Here are some tips on promoting second language learning, based on the latest research.
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Combining Words Together: A Big Step in Language Development

Published: Aug 2, 2016
First words are always exciting, but a child’s first combination of two different words is just as important. In fact, research shows that children who are late to combine words are more at risk for future problems with language than children who were late with their first words. Discover when your child should start putting words together, what to do if you suspect a delay, and how you can help him start making combinations.
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How to Build Language and Literacy Through Powerful Conversations

Published: Jul 18, 2016
Children learn language and literacy skills best during powerful, high-quality conversations with the important adults in their lives. Learn what the ingredients of a powerful conversation are, and get specific tips for what you can do during these conversations to build the important skills your child needs to learn.
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Verbs Pave the Way for Language Development

Published: Jun 20, 2016
You may have noticed that a child’s first words are usually the names of people or things, like “Mama”, “Dada”, “ball” or “car”. But by the age of two, young children should also be saying verbs. In fact, verb use at this age has been linked to more advanced grammatical skills six months later. Here are some tips for helping young children learn and use verbs.
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It’s Quality, Not Just Quantity, That Helps Your Child Develop Language

Published: May 13, 2016
Parents are often advised to “talk a lot” to their child to help him learn language. But recent study shows that the number of words a child hears is not what’s most important. Rather, it’s the quality of the interaction between the parent and child that makes the biggest difference. Find out what you can do to encourage the kinds of quality interactions that help your child learn best.
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Why Interaction Must Come Before Language

Published: May 2, 2016
Every parent is eager to hear their child use words and start putting sentences together. But did you know that there’s a long list of things a child must learn about communication before he can begin to communicate with words? Find out what these “pre-language” skills are, and how you can promote them during everyday interactions with your child.
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Pretend Play Should Be Fun, Not Work!

Published: Feb 16, 2016
Pretend play skills are closely linked with the development of language, social and emotional skills. Children with autism may need extra help to learn to pretend, but just showing them how to do pretend play actions isn't enough. find out how to add that one critical ingredient your child needs to truly pretend – fun!
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The Importance of Gestures

Published: Jan 13, 2016
Did you know that the ability to use gestures is an important precursor for language development? Children who produce more gestures early on have been shown to have larger vocabularies and better story-telling abilities later on. Find out what you can do encourage your child’s gesture use during everyday interactions.
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Encouraging Pretend Play in Children with Social Communication Difficulties

Published: Dec 7, 2015
Promoting pretend play development is a critical part of supporting young children with autism, and parents are key players in helping their child build these skills. Here’s some helpful information about why pretend play is important and what parents can do to help.
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Dads Can Make a Difference! Getting Dads of Children with Autism Involved in Intervention

Published: Oct 14, 2015
Mothers are often more involved than fathers in early language intervention for children with autism. But should that be the case? Studies show that Dads play a critical and unique role in supporting their child's communication development, and their involvement should always be encouraged.
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Preparing Preschoolers for "School Talk"

Published: Sep 10, 2015
When children start school, they’re suddenly expected to use and understand a very different kind of language from the one they’re used to hearing. Parents and childcare providers can give children a good head start by exposing them to “school talk” early so that they’re well prepared when they start school.
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Creating Safe(r) Screen Time for Your Child

Published: Jul 8, 2015
Though studies continue to show that children learn best from interacting with people, not screens, the fact is that media is large and unavoidable part of our lives. The good news is that children can learn from a limited amount screen time as long as parents follow a few important guidelines...
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Which Children with Autism Develop Better Communication Skills?

Published: Apr 9, 2015
Researchers have identified three critical skills that are connected to better communication skills later in life for children with autism: joint attention, imitation and toy play. Why are these skills so important for communication, and what can you do to help your child develop them?
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“Tuning In” to Others: How Young Children Develop Theory of Mind

Published: Mar 4, 2015
Having a ‘theory of mind” means understanding that other people’s thoughts and feelings may be different from your own. Children with autism have difficulty developing theory of mind, which can make social interactions difficult. Find out what you can do during everyday interactions with your child to help him tune in to the thoughts and feelings of others.
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Five Books, Five Literacy-Building Ideas!

Published: Feb 23, 2015
Early literacy skills are the “tools” your child needs to learn to read and write, so the more early literacy skills she has now, the better prepared she’ll be for school. Here are some fun tips for building the five critical early literacy skills your child needs to learn before she starts school…
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Was That Intentional? Helping Young Children with Communication Delays Send Purposeful Messages

Published: Jan 15, 2015
A big developmental step happens when young children learn to send messages intentionally – that is, when they learn to communicate directly to someone to achieve a specific goal. Find out what parents of children with communication delays can do encourage their child’s intentional communication.
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What Makes Your Child "Tick"? Using Children’s Interests to Build Communication Skills

Published: Nov 28, 2014
Many studies show that children’s best learning occurs when adults engage them in everyday activities that are based on their interests. Find out how to take a closer look at your child’s interests and use them to create a variety of enjoyable learning opportunities.

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Imitation with Children on the Autism Spectrum: More Than Just a Game of Copycat

Published: Oct 7, 2014
When you imitate actions back and forth with your child, you’re doing much more than playing a little game together. The ability of a child with autism to imitate the actions of others has been linked to the development of a variety of skills, from toy play skills to peer play skills to language skills.
Find out what the latest research says and how you can help your child learn to imitate.
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Teaching Children to Think: Meeting the Demands of the 21st Century

Published: Sep 8, 2014
With the advent of Google and modern technology, the role of the classroom teacher has had to evolve. Educators no longer need to focus on being “information keepers and dispensers.” Instead, they can focus on building the critical thinking skills