Communication occurs for two main reasons:
- For functional reasons, eg to obtain something or to have needs met, to solve a problem, negotiate or refuse something; or
- For social reasons, eg to comment on something, to share experience or for mutual pleasure.
In the clip from a review meeting, Sophia's class teacher, Jess, describes Sophia's progress and potential in communication.
If Sophia was in your class, what do you think you would need to do next to support Sophia's communication?
How can professionals and parents improve children's communication skills?
Professionals and parents need to:
- Understand that language development is underpinned by earlier basic communication skills promoted through interaction with parents, teachers and caregivers;
- Observe children closely to spot signs of progress; and
- Where appropriate use supportive communication systems, eg signs and symbols, or utilise new technologies to maximise communication.
Signing systems developed for children with learning difficulties offer visual support to help them communicate. They provide additional gestural cues for the spoken word but do not replace speech.
There are two signing systems in common use in special schools:
- Makaton, which supports the communication of key words; and
- Signalong, which offers a large number of signs.
A wide range of teaching resources and computer software is available commercially which can be used to support communication and literacy through signing.
Technology and signing in action
Video 12:30A story session using a broad range of supported communication systems.