“Why are you just playing when I want my child to talk?”

By PLAY Project Consultant, Brenna

…. But I want my child to talk!!!

This is what I hear from families very very very often. As a parent, I understand how helpful this is! If our kiddos could just TELL us what they need, life would be SO MUCH easier, right!?

While I completely understand the desire for this, I think it is super helpful that families understand all the little steps that need to happen first for kiddos to get those words out! 

So, here it is in a nutshell straight from PLAY project themselves! 

Think of language happening in terms of a pyramid. Kind of like the food pyramid but WAY better! 

FIRST: Check out the very bottom, the base of the pyramid! We HAVE to have Shared Attention. Your child looking at an object WITH you is also key here. If we aren’t both attending to the same thing, we can’t move on to the next step…

SECOND: Engagement. This is the ability for your child to show that they can participate! Eye contact, and then maybe even a smile! 

THIRD: Back and Forth Two-Way Communication. This can be so simple and basic: we have eye contact, we maybe have a smile, and then when we as the communication partner smile back or give eye contact back and they stay there with us! 

NOW WE ARE READY FOR COMMUNICATION! But still, it’s important to notice that before words come, we have some ladder rungs to climb!!!

Gestural communication comes first. Reaching to be picked up, pointing at the ball for you to get it and throw it back, hitting hands on their legs to show you they’re excited! 

……THEN comes the understanding of communication – the receptive piece! Your little one knowing when you point at the ball that this means to pick the ball up and play with you with it! ETC! 


THIS is the point a kiddo is ready to say single words. 

If we do not have them conquering each of these steps leading up to the purple category, expressive single words, we need to take a second as their “teachers” and start at the bottom to help them work their way up before we can expect them to be successful with words! 

We encourage you as a parent to ask yourself if your little one is not yet talking, where do you feel they are “stuck”? What do you notice that do a lot of, but are missing from this pyramid?

Then, spend time building the ladder rung directly BELOW that to help them strengthen their communication skills!! 
As always, if you need help supporting your child to move through these stages, Contact Us through our website and continue your journey growing and learning with your child!


An 8-week program for children age 3-6 with sensory processing differences

Children with sensory processing differences have difficulty with regulation, which sometimes makes it difficult for them to interact with the world around them. Our Sensory Explorers group targets regulation in order to build engagement! This group is led by pediatric occupational therapists Mackenzie Baldock (2:30 group) OR Meghan Day (8:30 group) and developmental therapist/PLAY Project Consultant Brenna Thompson, all of whom specialize in using developmentally appropriate strategies to support children so they can learn new skills. Group meets once/week for 60 minutes.

Wondering if this class is appropriate for your child? Some characteristics of kids who benefit: easily frustrated with play, repetitive play, difficulty sitting/keeping still to engage in play, refuses to allow others to engage in play, unable to be messy, overly busy, quickly overwhelmed in a busy environment, picky eater, difficulty tolerating grooming/dressing/diapering routines, struggles with transitions/following a group plan/routine. 

Goals of the group include:

  • Child participating in a variety of sensory play activities
  • Engaging socially with others in the group
  • Providing a non threatening environment where children can experience new sensations with the support of a pediatric Occupational Therapist and PLAY Project consultant
  • Providing personalized resources to caregivers, so they better understand the sensory system and learn strategies to assist their child with regulation outside of group
  • Opportunity to meet with other local families

GROUP MEETS for 8 weeks:  Caregivers must stay on the premises to support their child and learn helpful strategies. Children will separate from caregivers for the session; caregivers can socialize in the lobby (we will also provide a few toys for siblings to play). Caregiver education is a key component of this program. 


OPTIONAL Summary Report available at close of session. This 2 page report will summarize your child’s participation in the class and provide helpful sensory strategies to increase their participation in activities. This report could be given to teachers in classrooms & daycares or utilized to help educate other caregivers about ways to help your child participate. This option includes a 30 minute Zoom meeting with Brenna and MacKenzie/Brenna and Meghan to review the report and discuss your child’s progress in Sensory Explorers. COST: $100 due at sign up