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Hands are Great Tools for Communicating

We use many tools on a day-to-day basis. We use tools such as a hammer or screwdriver to help us manipulate, create or fix things. We use our phone or calendar as an external memory strategy tool so appointments and events don't have to be memorized in our head.

We also use many tools to communicate our wants and needs. We express and receive an enormous amount of information from visual feedback whether it’s from our facial expressions, intonation or inflection in our voice, how we stand and even how we manipulate and use our hands.

Our hands play a large role in communication. You may know some people who literally “speak” with their hands as they flail around when they talk. Others use their hands for signing as their main tool of communication because of a hearing impairment. We can also teach babies to commuicate with their hands before they're able to talk. Babies actually have the ability to point or gesture in order to express their needs. Regardless of how our hands are used, they're a beneficial tool which aids in communication.

Here are some great ways for children and adults to better understand and communicate through the use of hands:

- A srong handshake may represent a strong personality versus the opposite for a weaker personality.

- Pointing is important in the role of communication when trying to give an example or emphasize an object in a conversation.

- Hands in the pocket can be a sign of comfortability, confidence and relaxation.

- Hands on the hips make the elbows wide and the body appear larger. This can be a sign of readiness, power or aggression.

- Hands over the body can be a sign of defensiveness.

- Hands behind the back can represent anger, frustration or apprehension.

- Rubbing hands can represent anticipation.

- Tapping or drumming of hands can represent impatience.


Do you find yourself using your hands to communicate? Leave a comment about the gestures you make with your hands, and what you’re communicating.


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Comment by Martianne Stanger on April 11, 2012 at 9:15pm

My son is JUSt starting with spoken language at 21 months old, but uses his hands very well to communicate through pointing, some basic ASL words, grasping my hand and taking me where he wants/need something, etc.

Comment by Kelli McCoy on April 11, 2012 at 11:33am
Just another reason for my concern. My special needs daughter will not use her hands at all for anything -- except that she chews on one of them. She is 16 months old. This doesn't really seems to be sensory defensiveness, but maybe . . .She is visually impaired. She does not reach for or bat at toys, she doesn't touch food, she doesn't crawl, so she doesn't use them there. She doesn't hold onto us when we hold her. She is served through an early childhood intervention program. I just talked with one of the therapists yesterday who said she is going to have to get help from her colleagues. She is out of ideas to try with my daughter. Any suggestions?
Comment by Lorrie Maxson on April 10, 2012 at 6:03pm

We can use our hands in many ways to communicate.. To wave Hi and Bye ... To gesture for someone to "come here" ... Gesturing with your hands and using facial expressions are a great way to communicate without using words!  :)

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