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Working on Recurrence: Again versus More

>Did you know that the word “again” is one of the top 60 words that children acquire between the ages of 18 and 36 months of age? (Marvin, C. A., Beukelman, D. R. & Bilyeu, D. 1994). Children use the communicative function of recurrence frequently throughout their days to ask their their parents for more of something, or to repeat an activity or action.

What is recurrence?

Recurrence occurs when a child either comments on or requests the recurrence/another instance of a thing, activity, or person (i.e. “monkey again,” “more juice, another cookie,” “jump again”).  This can occur with or without the original item/instance still present (Lahey, M. (1988)  Language Disorders and Language Development. )

When should I use the word “more”?


Looking at typical acquisition of language, we may target the word “more” at the single word level, and then move to using this word in two-word combinations. The word “more” can be used as a single word.   On the CVES core vocabulary foldout with an emergent communicator, the word “more” may be removed directly from the foldout and given to a communication partner.  The communication partner takes the icon “more,” may hold the icon next to their face (to encourage orienting to communication partner), and verbally names the icon “more” aloud.  This allows the communication partner to assign meaning to the word within the context of the activity at hand.  The communication partner can then respond back to the child using their voice or by using the same icon “more.”   Depending upon the child’s language level and target utterance, the communication partner may verbally name the single word  by itself (“more”) or may say the word and add a fringe vocabulary word (i.e. “more cookies”).  The communication partner may begin to use the core communication card to target 2-word utterances (no more, more what?, more cookie, more bubbles, want more? etc).
“More” is a good target word for recurrence when the child is working on more of an item, thing, or food.  A good rule of thumb is if you can add to or take away from something, then the word “more” can be targeted.    Similarly, if there are multiples of items that can be acquired or added by a child, then “more” would be an appropriate target.  Examples of items that can be used to target “more”: Juice, milk, water, pretzels, chips, (any food or drinks during snacks and mealtimes), Bubbles, Paint, Shaving cream, sand and sand toys,  magnet letters, magnet blocks, figurines, music.

Alternatively, we may also be working with kiddos who aren’t interested in some of the items listed above.  One of my clients had very little interest in traditional play items which might be offered throughout his school day.  In fact, most of the items that were presented to him as incentives to ask for “more” resulted in disinterest, and him leaving the area.  A reinforcer assessment revealed one of his favorite items to be colored rubberbands.  These items were then used to target recurrence during  targeted language instruction to teach the concept of “more” and recurrence.  Following spontaneous use of this communicative function, structured opportunities for requesting recurrence were scheduled throughout his schools day in addition to honoring his spontaneous requests.

When should I use the word “again”?

The word “again” can be used by itself or combined with other words when a child is requesting recurrence of an activity or action.  “Again” is a very powerful word and clinically we can look to use this word with the same frequency that we target the word “more.”  “Again” can be targeted with the same frequency as “more,” however we are teaching the use of this word paired with an action or activity.  Tickling, jumping, walking, peek-a-boo, hugging, being carried, being pushed on a swing, being bounced on a ball, are examples of actions that may be requested with the word “again.”  Activities such as watching a tv show or movie, listening to a song, doing a puzzle, being picked up or swung back and forth by an adult, repeating a song, sliding down a slide, going for a car ride, climbing through a tunnel, playing a game, can all be requested using the word “again.”

What about using “more” and “again” with other communicative functions?

While working on the concept of recurrence, it is important to keep in mind the other ways that “more” and “again” can be used across communicative functions.  Both “more” and “again” can be used to request an answer from a communication partner in the form of a question.  For example, a child working on two word combinations may use more + fringe word to ask if they can have more of a preferred item.  A child may say “more + cereal?” at snack  time as if to say “Is there more cereal?” or “can I have more cereal?”  A child may say “go again?”  or “do again?” to their parent to ask if they can  go down the slide again at the park.

Alternatively, the words “again” and “more” can be incorporated into requesting actions from other people.  More specifically, a child may work on directing an adult or communication partner to do an action.   “Do again!” may be used this time as a way to tell a parent to push them on the swing again.  “Up again” may be used to direct a caregiver to pick the child up again.  After a child has learned generalization, or understanding and use across a variety of activities, the next target for therapy would be three word combinations (Do it again, I want again, want up again, etc.).

Next month check out as we talk about visual schedules and core vocabulary!

One thought on “Working on Recurrence: Again versus More

  1. I have also found myself using “more” with my students when I should be modeling “again”. I’m reminded of how my own children used “again” constantly when they were playing and interacting with others. The word again is more natural in so many situations where we’ve been focusing on the use of the word “more”. Something I plan to keep in mind!

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