Just because a child is non-verbal doesn’t mean they have nothing to say. They take in the world around them just like other children and are sure to have plenty of thoughts, ideas, and opinions of their own. However, they need support in expressing themselves in other ways to get their message across.
Make them feel included by continuing to talk to them and explain things as you would to anyone else – but give them other options for reciprocating. You may want to use assistive devices such as:
- Picture cards
- Buttons or switches
- Text-to-speech programs
- Other computer programs
You can customize these resources to your child’s needs and common phrases they may want to use. You can also adapt them to fit their abilities and how they best communicate. Before you assume you know what they’re going to say, give them a chance to answer for themselves. You can also try strategies such as clapping or blinking for certain responses.
Sign language can be another helpful solution. Children are often quick to pick up on signs when they realize that it helps them to communicate what they want and others can better understand them. Don’t worry if you’re not fluent in sign language – learn along with your child and focus on words and phrases that are used most often.
Pay attention to their body language and facial expressions as well. They can say as much if not more than words. Crossed arms or a scowl can show displeasure, while wide eyes and a big smile can show happiness. Your child can push things away when they’re done, point to objects they want, or turn in the direction of people they want to communicate with.
Encourage activities such as music, art, movement, or writing as other ways to express themselves. They may not be able to sing along to a song, but they can dance, bang on a drum, or shake maracas. They can paint or draw pictures to share their ideas or creativity.
As your child gets older, you’ll learn the nuances of how they express themselves and what certain sounds or movements mean. Try a variety of communication options and see what works best for your child. Their preferences may change as they get older or learn new skills. Work with their therapists and teachers as well so that everyone is on the same page and using the same approaches for consistency and understanding.
PediaPlex works with children of all ages on a variety of communication strategies. From speech therapy to social skills to handwriting, we create a personalized plan of care to meet your child’s unique needs. Children with diverse abilities can learn what works best for them in communicating with others and how to do so more effectively. Communication – whether verbal or non-verbal – is an integral part of everyday life, so let PediaPlex help you make the most of your child’s abilities.
Does your child struggle to communicate or become frustrated that they’re misunderstood? Contact PediaPlex to see how we can help.