Monday, March 11, 2013

The Missing Link

Picture Courtesy MS Word Clipart
When children have the inability to express themselves it makes things difficult, not only for them and their parents but for everyone involved in the child’s life. Communication boards and picture symbols are a good place to start when working with a child who is non-verbal or has difficulty expressing wants, needs and feelings. A child needs to learn to communicate in whatever way they can and is comfortable for them. If your child or student is verbal but continues to have difficulty understanding or expressing, pictures provide the support to reduce frustration and anxiety.

When used with recipes, stories or any other activity, picture symbols help children remember ingredients, characters or actions and serve as visual cues when they are asked to recall and relate an activity. Picture symbols also help children to maintain their focus on an activity or remember the sequence of an activity.

While picture symbols promote expressive and receptive language communication and reinforce reading and comprehension skills, picture symbols can also allow children to become more independent by helping them to express themselves.

It is important to remember, we all communicate in many ways other than the spoken word. If your child is not yet speaking, he needs a way to communicate and develop language skills NOW. Encourage the use of standard gestures (hi, bye, yes, no) and pointing. Using pictures and/or a communication system greatly increases vocabulary choices and just may become the “missing link” you have been seeking for your child or student.

Communication boards and picture symbols need to be in place easily accessible for the child student and/or other family members. Giving a child a way to communication often times decreases negative behavior. Not to mention the ability of being able to sit with them, use visual pictures and know the dialog could possibility be understood?

Imagine being in a foreign land, let’s say Germany. You need to go to the bathroom. You have no interpreter with you, no pictures to communicate, you don’t know any of the language and everyone around you is speaking in German and cars are buzzing up and down the street. How are you going to express the need for a bathroom?” Your anxiety is already heightened because you can’t speak the language and you really need to go to the bathroom! But how are you going to express your need? What will be the end result with your behavior because you can’t communicate to get the information, no matter how hard you try? I’m guessing you’re probably not very happy right now. So now think about your child or student. Do they have the ability or inability to express their wants and needs? Is it effective and functional?