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A Day in the Life of Stella

Are you curious about what Stella says on a typical day? Take a look at Stella’s daylong language sample from Monday, 7/15/19, along with the context of what was happening at the time. We can learn a lot from observing Stella’s words and how she’s using language to communicate!


5:00-6:00 AM:

· “Eat” (Stella requested breakfast)

· “Outside” (Stella requested to go outside)

· “Come no” (I didn’t take her outside immediately)

· “Outside” (Requested again, we went outside)

· “Eat outside” (We came back inside. She said what just happened)

· “Want walk outside” (Requested a walk and we left)


7:00-8:00 AM

· “All done” (Came back from the walk, took Stella’s leash off)

· “Eat” (I was making my breakfast)

· “Outside” (Requested outside, we didn’t go right away)

· “Want Stella bye outside” (Requested outside again, we went outside)


11:00 AM-12:00 PM

· “Love you come” (Stella rolled over for a belly rub)

· “Outside” (Requested going outside)


4:00-9:00 PM

· “Outside” (I just came home, Stella requested outside)

· “Love you bye Stella” (Came back in from outside)

· “Eat” (Requested dinner)

· “Eat come” (Requested again when I didn’t feed her right away)

· “Come no” (I was still preoccupied…)

· “Park” (We just came back from her favorite dog park)

· “Outside” (Requested outside)

· “Bye come outside” (Requested going outside)


Stella produced 20 utterances on Monday. She used 11 different words, 34 total words. Stella generated 9 word combinations; the other 11 utterances were single button hits.


As I track Stella’s language production, I’ve noticed she often talks about what just happened. For example after she eats she says, “eat” then says what she wants to do next. After we come back from the park she often says, “park.” This has made me wonder if Stella is trying to talk about what she just did but lacks the vocabulary to say more than one word about it. It also makes me wonder what Stella understands about time concepts. When we came back from the park and saw Jake, was Stella trying to tell him that’s where we just were? Was she trying to say she had fun at the park? Was she trying to say now that we’re done with the park it’s time for something else? We will only know the answer to these questions with having more vocabulary available to Stella and teaching her more words. To start exploring this avenue, I added an “all done” button. I’m hoping Stella will be able to talk about what just happened by saying something along the lines of “all done eat” or “all done park” when the activity is finished. Following days of modeling, Stella said, “all done” for the first time after her walk on Monday.


From Stella’s language samples, we can also realize that her language is both predictable and unpredictable at the same time. Stella is predictable with her language in the sense that she uses words relevant to what’s happening or what just happened. When we came back from the dog park, she said “park.” She didn’t say “beach” or “walk.” Her language is unpredictable at the same time because she is constantly generating novel word combinations, using language to communicate in different ways, and surpassing communication limitations I once thought she might have.


Speaking of exceeding expectations, Stella is nearing the milestone of using single words and short phrases with the same level of frequency. Previously, Stella produced word combinations just once or twice per week. Now, she uses almost as many word combinations as single words on any given day. This is exciting! Stella uses two and three-words phrases every day. About once every three days, she will combine four words together. Will Stella start making short sentences daily? Will Stella eventually communicate primarily with word combinations? I can’t wait to find out!


Christina Hunger, M.A.,CCC-SLP

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© 2020 by Christina Hunger, M.A., CCC-SLP