Infants arrive in the world with:
- Some starting points for communication;
- An ability to recognise patterning;
- The capacity to distinguish their home language over others; and
- A preference for the moving human form.
What aspects of pre-verbal communication do you notice?
Learning through interaction
In the clip on the previous page, a parent engages her baby in interaction, helping to establish fundamental communication skills that will be needed later for conversation.
In this clip, Lesley, a teaching assistant uses the same approach with Callum, a child with PMLD.
Teaching assistant Lesley interacts with Callum1:22
What features characterise these early interactions?
You might have noticed how:
- The child/early communicator contributes actively;
- The adult reinforces and builds on spontaneous responses and vocalisations;
- Both participants are positive;
- Interaction is inherently pleasurable - the child is given the clear message that s/he is valued.
From the two clips that you have watched in this section, list the features that characterise early interactions.
At such an early stage of development, the earliest interactions include:
- Turn taking;
- Eye contact;
- Monitoring gaze; and
- The timing of utterances.
The child's pre-verbal exchanges with adults and caregivers are the foundations for language development. With over 80% of all everyday communication estimated to be non-verbal, the development of these skills will be of lasting benefit.