A network to share best practices for children with special needs
Welcome to the month of May, also known as BSHM (Better Speech and Hearing Month). With so many more children being diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum these days, along with those with sensory processing disorders and/or behavioral challenges, today’s technology can often be a helpful tool in augmenting expressive communication.
What about those hidden nuances behind the actual spoken word? One study done in the U.S. found that 93% of a message was transmitted by the speaker’s tone of voice and facial expressions while only 7% was conveyed by the actual words. Other studies show there can be 15 or more non-verbal communication signals that are being sent with face-to-face contact including proximity to the person you are speaking to, eye contact and gestures. Some of these nonverbal complexities are cultural (personal space between two individuals talking varies widely with different nationalities for example), but many of these cues are universal such as the change in voice tone and/or facial expressions with emotions such as happy vs. angry or knowing how to use proper manners such as saying "please" and "thank you."
These social pragmatic skills don’t come easily to many children with special needs and require extra care, compassion and training to learn the complex subtleties of language. There are many resources devoted to helping children with these challenges including great tips from the American Speech-Language- Hearing Association (ASHA) for working on pragmatic language skills. Success Stories are another method for addressing practical development in this area. These are online stories that review desired behaviors/outcomes. With the ability to customize the story for each child then print on demand, these social stories include topics like, “Playing Together,” “My Space Your Space,” “Making Friends” and more. Please share your favorite tips for helping children communicate behind the words!