3 Ways to Stay on Topic

The Conversation Corner, By Brook Fieldman

Part 6 of 8 – There will be 2 blogs each week in this series with a night of in-person recap at the end of the month.

Enhancing Topic Maintenance

As previously mentioned in other blog posts, effective communication is essential for maintaining strong social relationships. However, individuals with Down syndrome face challenges with conversational rules and expectations. These different rules are commonly implied, rather than taught, which makes it all the more challenging to keep up with social interactions. Another way of increasing conversation structure is to attend to topic maintenance. Topic maintenance can be defined as the ability to remain focused on a singular topic during conversation and contribute relevant information pertaining to that topic. (Staying on Topic)

Here are a few tips that you can use to facilitate topic maintenance. 

  • Provide examples of active listening (e.g., using eye contact and head nods)
    • Active listening plays a key role in topic maintenance. By actively listening to the speaker, one is able to pick apart aspects of a conversation to ask more elaborate questions (e.g., focusing on shared interests or curiosities)
  • Create a visual or verbal cue to remind an individual to stay on topic (e.g., saying the word “topic” or tapping your side)
  • Role-play with favorite superheroes or princesses to practice topic transitions in a more engaging setting

I hope you’ve learned that topic maintenance is a fundamental skill for actively taking part in conversation. If you’re up for a challenge, I highly recommend combining the suggestions made in the turn-taking blog with these ideas for an elevated conversational experience. Thank you for following along! 

Thank you for reading.

Submitted by, Brook Fieldman, Augustana Intern

  • Augustana College Class of 2024
  • Communication Sciences and Disorders Major
  • Disability and Asian Studies Minors

Handouts from this blog series can be seen here as they become available.

Join us for a recap night! Family Speaker: Communication & Expectations Monday, April 29th at 5:30

Register using this link.

Discussing Important Topics

One goal of our Adult Group Speech program is staying on topic during group conversations.

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