The Different Paths to Communication
When I enter a new home and meet a family for the first time, one of the first questions I am asked by parents usually sounds something like this, "How are you going to get my to child to talk?
" After doing this for several years, I have learned that this is not always an easily answered question. Generally speaking, there are four main modes of communication that I discuss with families. I explain the theory and mechanics behind each one, make my recommendations and ask the family for their input and feedback. The four main methods are the following:
- Sign language
- Picture communication
- Phonemic cueing / Articulation therapy
- Augmentative communication
As a therapist, there are many questions I ask myself and the parent(s) before making my recommendations. I feel that it is very important to get a full assessment of the child and their level of development and communication before making a decision. In addition, I often incorporate a mix of the four modes and include oral motor therapy to provide support and stimulation to the physical development of the speech musculature.
Below are some of the questions and points to consider before making a recommendation:
- How is the child communicating now? What is working at home and what is not?
- How old is the child? How should the child be communicating at this age level and what is the best way to achieve that goal?
- Get the family involved—ask them if they have a preference for a communication mode (some will and some won't). You need to assess what the family can handle and the commitment they are willing to make with a communication system on a daily basis. I have met families that are originally opposed to sign language because they fear their child will never talk if they learn how to sign. Therefore, parent education often becomes a big part of recommending a communication system.
Join me Friday, when we continue the discussion about how to choose an appropriate communication system for little ones in early intervention!