In this edition of ABA Behind the Scenes, Jami Hardy, MS, BCBA, LGPC, talks about listener responding in early language development.
Listener responding is following directions given by others—for example, stand up, walk to the table, find mom, touch the chair, and pick up book. This is an important skill to discriminate between multiple items, instructions, and people.
Listener responding typically starts as early as infancy, once the child begins to follow simple directions such as “come here” or “give hug.”
As the child progresses, they may begin to follow multiple word demands such as “clap hands” or “give me a cup”—discriminating between multiple people, items, and actions.
Your BCBA and instructor will work with you and your child to respond and discriminate between multiple objects, people, and actions. This teaching may begin with a one-word demand from the instructor stating “car,” and a follow-up response from your child selecting the car directly in front of them in isolation. As your child grasps the concept of identifying the correct object in front of them, your instructor may add in other objects to discriminate between providing the demand “car” while a car, book, and truck are presented in front of your child.
Another example would be an instructor giving the instruction “clap” and your child responding by clapping. The instructor may then build on this response by giving a 2-step instruction “clap, then stomp.” Initially, your instructor may help your child give the correct answer and eventually fade their help out until your child is able to give the correct response independently.
By Jami Hardy, MS, BCBA, LGPC