As a behaviour analyst (in training) I have learned to be more mindful of my words. What we say is one thing; how those words function or are interpreted are another. I choose my words wisely to mean what I say and say I what I mean. So when I hear someone say to a another person with limited verbal repertoire, “Use your words”, I cannot help but imagine (then laugh) at the idea of that person one day saying, “Fuck off!”. I suspect that will be frowned upon; yet, the person did use their words like they were told. You cannot punish them for that.
Let’s abolish, “Use your words.” People have heard it too many times that it has no meaning anymore. If one could not retrieve the words to say something in the first place, it’s not going to come as a result of the line, “Use your words.”
What words am I supposed to use?
“I think what you’re trying to tell me is, …” If the interpretation of the situation calls for a word or phrase, then model the words that are meant to be said. Model the language (either verbal or non-verbal) that can get their needs met.