In the last blog, we looked at some specific communication devices and strategies that can support non-verbal children in expressing themselves. But outside of technology, there are other ways that you can encourage communication and interaction.
Most importantly, keep your child involved. You want them to be a part of daily activities as well as special events. Just because they aren’t talking in the traditional sense, doesn’t mean they can’t make valuable contributions. They’re part of your family and should be made to feel just as important as everyone else.
- Keep talking. Combine gestures and words when you talk to your child. Whether they respond with clapping, pointing, nodding, or picture exchange, restate what they’re saying as well to confirm. For instance, “I see you’re happy that…” or “You want to play with the truck.” Model appropriate behaviors that you want them to learn.
- Give them time to respond. Just as you pause in normal conversation and give the other person a chance to speak, give your non-verbal child a chance to “speak” as well. Don’t just assume you know what they want. Let them tell you however they are best able.
- Provide choices. Having the option to choose can encourage communication from your child. Show them two or three items and let them pick what they want. All children, regardless of their ability to speak, like to feel like they have some control and say in decisions.
- Have patience. It can take time for your child (and you!) to learn how to use alternative communication devices effectively. Keep practicing and making adjustments to best fit the needs and abilities of your child. Provide encouragement, motivation, and praise, which is beneficial for all children.
Have confidence that with practice, support, and time, your non-verbal child will be able to communicate with you and others in a meaningful and engaging way.
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