In Which I Plead For Your Ideas

He’ll match them.

He’ll identify them.

He’ll sort them.

He’ll stack them.


But for the life of me I can’t get this kid to sign them.

The tension mounts and I resort to pleading.

Parker’s will is always the last one standing.


We’re trying to get Parker to sign his colors.

It’s the last item to pass off his IEP for color mastery. Everything else has been signed off and accounted for.

BTW, who knew there so many steps in learning one’s colors?

Parker got an extra large dose of the famous Hodson stubborn gene. It’s from his Dad’s side of the family. It’s so impressive that legends are handed down from one generation to the next sharing the shock and wonder of this particular brand of unyielding tenaciousness.


I need some help.

Make that a lot of help.

Give me some ideas to help this kid decide he does indeed want to sign his colors.

We’re starting with red. No food rewards as Parker’s is NPO.

I’ll be forever in your debt.

About Tammy and Parker

Special Needs Blogger, and homeschooling Mom, heavily involved in advocacy for all kids with special needs in Utah.


  1. Signingtime’s Colors of the Rainbow over and over? Nash loved that song!

  2. Bear will not sign on demand, either. I would have him pick it from a color array. Put red, blue & yellow color cards out and have him place the correct card with the item. I’m pretty sure that can be used as an assessment tool. I’ll check with our SLP for you.

    • I left out: when he places the correct card, you sign “red” and if he mimics, clap and smile. Rinse and repeat.

      Eventually, you’ll be able to prompt him to sign it, then he’ll respond to “what color is this?” You’re working in a new section of his brain and he has to get it connected to the language area.

      • Oh, great idea. I have groups of items for all the colors. Maybe now instead of getting him to sign them, I’ll have him place a color card.

        If I ask for the red ball out of a group of red, blue, pink, and yellow balls, he’ll hand me the red ball. He just won’t sign red ball.

  3. I’m with Jan – Colors of the Rainbow – Signing Time ;) Worked for my boy :)

  4. I sometimes need to do this with Ralph when he is not working with me…I will ask him twice to answer my question, then if needed I will use hand-over-hand to assist him. He gets the reward for giving me the right answer whether I helped him or not-high fives and hoorays. Failure is not an option this way. I hope that it increaes his confidence and understanding. HTH

    • We hand over hand too. But after a while of hand over handing we simply say thank you instead of the clapping and cheering. We save that for him actually doing the sign himself.


  5. I agree with the others. Signing time video’s did wonders for my kids! I don’t a special needs child, but I felt it important for them to learn how to sign and it helped so much with communication!

  6. Paint the colors on his bodyparts that are part of that sign. Red from lip to chin (sign as you go), bluein his palm, green on pointer and thumb, yellow on his thumb and pinkie, orange circle on his chin, brown/black on his face and forehead, white on his chest. Make it as fun as possible and then move onto the objects.

  7. Some pretty good ideas already. (I like the idea of you being in my debt – no doubt I can get some great recipes out of that!) *wink*

    What DOES he like or will reward him? Something(s) that are or can be colored? He MUST sign to get said reward. It’s the ABA way. (Fancy name for behavior modification.)

    • Barbara, yep, we like ABA here. Parker likes to bounce on a big ball, swing, and have Brant throw him into the air. We have a pecs chart of these things. So if Parker successfully fulfills a requirement he can rip off a PECS pic and hand it to us to show us the reward of his choice.

  8. Chris says:

    Nana would never sign or say anything unless she had no other way to get it. With colors, she would only say them at first if that was the feature of what she was looking at. I’m know I’m in the minority, but the Brainy Bainy DVD Left Brain is really what taught Nana her colors, because they would just make the whole screen the color and nothing else, then say and write the color on the screen. It had to be isolated like that to click that the word and the color went together. Maybe you could do the same w/ construction paper??

  9. debbie says:

    try sign recognition first? you put out an array of three or four different colored items (better to keep it the same item first – ie, four different colored pom-poms; four different colored poker chips) and YOU ask for the color in sign. make that the game (asking for the item); especially good if you get to do something fun with the item once you get it (throw it? make noise with it?). let him have the “power” first (control over the items). then see if he will switch and be the one to ask. if all else fails – paint your remote control or cell phone different colors; i have found that children will do almost anything to get their hands on those things!
    good luck!

    • He’ll do this. I can ask him in sign and he’ll hand me the proper one. He just won’t sign it. erg.

      Now painting my cell phone…….hm.. thinking……..thinking……

  10. beverly says:

    my Noah will most of the time not do one thing on demand. I always have to make it a fun game and he will do and say anything.

  11. Kimber says:

    Hi, Tammy (& Parker!)
    I am de-lurking to respond! I found your site after bouncing around looking up Workbox info. I fully confess that I have no experience whatsoever with special needs children, but I have a 7 year old and I teach Kindergarten, so I am a “MoM” (Master of Manipulation). LOL!
    The thing that came immediately to mind is that you posted at some point how much he loved the wagon ride in the hospital. Is that do-able at home?? I know it would be a huge amount work…would it be worth it?
    I also second the idea of “coloring” items that are desirable to Parker. Do you have any iPhone/iTouch applications that he likes to use? Could you buy a cheap “skin” for it so that by signing the color he gets to play with it? Does he have favorite DVDs? Could you cover the DVD case with colored construction paper and he can watch the DVD if he signs the color?


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