Supporting Kids with Communication Needs: The 5 Golden Rules
#1: Limit the Pressure to Talk: Many kids with communication needs are highly aware of their difficulties. Attempts to help your child verbalize by suggesting they "use their words" or encouraging them to respond to peers (ex: "say hi", "say thank you") may often lead to decreased verbal output.
#2: Create Opportunities for Nonverbal Participation: Brainstorm ways that your child can participate in activities where verbal participation isn't necessary. Have them point to something in a picture instead of verbally responding to a question. Think of ways that they can show you rather than tell you and participate with actions instead of words.
#3: Utilize Alternative Forms of Communication: Consider using ASL signs, gestures, or pictures to expand communication potential. A "core board" with words like "water", "bathroom", and "help" can give your child another way to communicate with you for a variety of purposes throughout your day.
#4: Create a Visual Schedule: Use photos or picture icons to represent the order of activities for your day. Review the schedule with your child at the beginning of the day and refer back to it during transitions. You can also draw pictures on a whiteboard or piece of paper in lieu of printed pictures.
#5: Use Fewer Questions and More Modeling: Instead of asking a question that requires a verbal response, try modeling the words you think your child would want to say. If your child has difficulty with open-ended questions, try giving them 2 choices to pick from instead.
**These 5 Golden Rules can also easily be applied to your child's classroom if he/she is in school. This would be a great list to share with your child's teacher as you work together to have a successful school year.