The key to working with children and young people often centres on communication. But how do you do this with non-verbal (or mainly non-verbal) children and young people.
Parents of children and adults with special needs contributed their best tips to Scope leading to these 23 ways to communicate. This is a really useful read for those of us living with or working with non-verbal (or mainly non-verbal) children.
Here’s a few of my favourites:
2. Level it up
Playing and talking are easier if you can see each other. Sit so you are at the same level.
3. Talk about it
Eddy can’t speak and also has limited understanding but it is important to keep talking to him about what’s going on.
4. Eye contact
I put stickers on my forehead as a target for my son to look at. This reminds him to look at people’s faces, so people feel more like he is engaging with them.
8. Find other means of expression
Give your child an opportunity to express themselves. Dance, music, drawing, painting, messing with textures, banging drums, shaking maracas – and join in too. Don’t be afraid to lay down with them on the carpet and see the world from their point of view.
9. It’s not obvious
Therapist often ask you to keep eye contact with them. We (Aspies – people with Aspergers syndrome) often avoid eye contact because it helps us to focus on what someone is saying. I find it hard to process verbal information and think about signals from someone’s face at the same time.
11. Create social stories
I have been creating my own social stories using pictures of my son and clip art pictures. You can find images of most things through Microsoft Office and easily type up your own personalised stories.
12. Make ‘flash cards’
Take photos of a non verbal person’s favorite toys, family members, objects eg cup, biscuit etc. Choose the most motivating items to begin with. Print and laminate them postcard size. Giving a choice of no more than three cards at a time, encourage them to choose by pointing or touching. May also be helpful to put the relevant sign on the back of photo as a reference for others
19. Communication passports
A communication passport is a one page document that the child has with him or her all of the time. It gives the people they meet basic information about how they communicate and what support they need. You can find out more about communication passports at www.communicationpassports.org.uk
22. Personal portfolio
Cerebra provides a free service to help parents create a personal portfolio for their child aged 16 and under. A personal portfolio is a user-friendly booklet about your child to introduce them to others. It is especially helpful when your child has communication difficulties. Very useful for teachers & professionals. www.cerebra.org.uk
23. Intensive Interaction
I have two children on the spectrum, aged 7 & 5. Intensive Interaction helped me stay sane and unlocked the barriers so I could communicate with them. www.intensiveinteraction.co.uk