Alternatives to verbal communication

No matter who it is, we all have forms of communication that is an alternative to verbal. Between two people, it may be a hand wave, or a whistle, or the blinking of a light. Each action brings a reaction between the two individuals involved. Sometimes words don’t means as much as we think they do.

Many children with autism are non-verbal. Although they may receive an autism therapy related to speech, the focus is not always verbal. Several avenues are being used for individuals to communicate with others.

One such communication system is called PECS or Picture Exchange Communication System. This form of communication the child uses pictures, not words, to communicate. To begin, pictures of a child’s favorite food, toys or people are indentified. When the child would like the item, she hands the person the picture of the item. When the picture is exchanged, the child receives the requested article. It is this exchange that develops one form of communication.

Another communication process is using signs from sign language. Again favorite or often used words are identified. The sign used in American Sign Language is taught to the child. Being proficient in the clarity of the sign is not essential. What is basic is that a gesture, sometimes known as a home sign is identified and used.

As no one form of communication works for all, it is important to try several to find the one that maximizes the child’s non-verbal skills. In all forms of communication being used, it is important that it be consistent at home and at school to gain the best results.

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