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Communication and the Nonverbal Child

In a nation which yearns for self-expression and the constitution ensures freedom of speech, the society demands and embraces communication through numerous means. The world thrives through the use of phones, email, texts, faxes, websites, social networking sites, blogs, and live video messaging. Connections are made with people around the world in seconds and from numerous locations from private homes to automobiles, trains, hotel rooms and airplanes. People demand technologically advanced means of correspondence with very little patience when their “device” fails to work promptly.

Imagine, for a moment, being trapped within and not being able to communicate even the most basic needs or desires, either spoken, written or in a manner the average person understands. Parents of nonverbal children would give anything to hear them speak, and spend endless hours, days, even years trying to figure out their child’s most basic requests. It is exhausting for both parent and child. A child’s attempt to express themselves often turns to frustration and is commonly treated as a behavioral problem. Communication devices have come a long way in this day of advanced technology, and many children with special needs are now able to use these effectively. Many children though, will grow into adulthood never mastering any form of communication peers will understand.

It’s important to recognize that communication comes in many forms and almost everyone is able to express themselves. It takes great patience, compassion and awareness to understand unspoken messages and may be as subtle as the blink of an eye, the turn of a head, facial expression, sounds or tone, or sign language. Emotions are a strong guide; even seemingly inappropriate reactions can lead to an understanding of what a nonverbal child is trying to express. In a society that demands rapid feedback it is important to remember that everyone uses a different means to communicate. With patience, perseverance and respect, communicating with the nonverbal child is possible, gives them a “voice” and creates value.

In Gratitude,



2 Responses

  1. This is so true. We struggled for years with my Nick. He went through a long period where the only verbal communication that we were able to gleen from him was through a series of grunts, screams and fits, and even then the communication gap was tremendous. However, we’ve seen him grow by leaps and bounds in the last three years. From Public School to Home School. From a world full of distraction and sound, to the peaceful sounds of the country, from dietary chaos to some symblence of a diet that seems to make sense and from the frantic depths of his mind he has finally found his voice… real heartfelt verbal communication of not only needs and wants, but desires and REAL feelings and emotions and honest concern for the well being of others… “A” is for Autism… but “A” is also for Amazing, and Awesome, At Last and Amen…

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