A child that is termed non-verbal or minimally verbal uses no or few consistent words to communicate. We know how difficult it can be to figure out children’s wants and needs when they are not using their speech to express themselves. The good news is that even though non-verbal children are not using words to communicate, it doesn’t mean they are not trying to communicate. We are all social beings that crave social connections in one way or another, and all we need is to find a way to do so. In this blog, we will dive into the total communication approach.
How to get started? You can use the Total Communication Approach by accepting and using all forms of communication verbal and non-verbal (i.e., vocalizations, eye gaze, facial expressions, gestures, sign language, Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), etc.). Our goal is for children to feel understood, even if they cannot use their voice to speak.
Research in early child development has demonstrated that long before children learn how to produce speech, they communicate with eye gaze, vocalizations, gestures, facial expressions, and body language. Having these prelinguistic abilities, or pre-verbal skills, lead to positive language outcomes. Additionally, being able to read these non-verbal means of communication may help us better understand what a non-verbal child might want to communicate. It is crucial to remember that every child is different and that sometimes a child may need some instruction to learn how to use these skills to communicate.
It is important to remember that we all have the desire to communicate, and we all do so in our ways. Prelinguistic or non-verbal communication is a rich form of communication that is the basis for symbolic and efficient communication development. Ensuring that non-verbal children are being understood increases their likelihood of success and reduces any frustrations that may arise from not being able to communicate.
If you have questions about prelinguistic skills, the total communication approach, switches for non-verbal children or would like more information on how to get started, get in touch with your speech language pathologist. Additionally, feel free to contact NAPA’s Pediatric Speech Therapy Program for a free consultation with one of our speech language pathologists. We specialize in early language development, AAC and treat a diverse range of diagnoses including aphasia. We are here to help – reach out anytime!
Maria De Leon is a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) at NAPA Center, with more than five years in the special education field. She has worked with a variety of families to help children reach their highest potential. She has a specialization in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and a passion for advocating for individuals with communicative disorders. She loves coffee and, on the weekend, you can find her catching up on tv shows with her kitty and puppy.
NAPA Center is a world-renowned pediatric therapy clinic, offering pediatric therapy for children of all ages in traditional or intensive settings. With six clinic locations and intensive therapy pop-up sessions worldwide, NAPA is committed to helping children lead their happiest, healthiest lives. At NAPA, we take an individualized approach to therapy because we understand that each child is unique with very specific needs. For this reason, no two therapeutic programs are alike. If your child needs our services, we will work closely with you to select the best therapies for them, creating a customized program specific to your child’s needs and your family’s goals. Let your child’s journey begin today by contacting us to learn more.