Even before a child begins to speak, they develop an understanding of what we say and communicate non-verbally through gesture eye contact and understand language. It is important to enhance this learning and understanding, as these components of communication are the cornerstones for verbal language.
Here are a three great ways to help communication development for non-verbal children
1. Engage in people games
Electronic toys and devices have become very popular since they have become available on the market, and though they may seem like an easy way to pacify a child, they do not promote two way communication and interactions. People games such as nursery rhymes and peek-a-boo are excellent ways to boost a child’s communication and interaction skills as they promote face-to-face interactions, teach turn taking and routines, to reinforce bonding and communication.
2. Sharing attention
Joint attention is one of the cornerstones of communication and interaction. This occurs when two people are both focusing on the same thing at the same time. Being able to display joint attention is an essential part of effective communication, especially in verbal speech, in order to have a joint coherent conversation.
Sharing a focus lets a child know you are interested in what they are saying or doing. It is also essential for social skill development and empathy. It allows the child to share an experience with people and understand their point of view. Joint attention can be improved by reading a book together, sharing a toy, or pointing to objects or person out the window, and attending to their actions together.
3. Interacting through non-verbal language
Non-verbal communication such as gesture, facial expression, eye contact, and body language also convey a message across to another person. Children can understand emotion through gesture, facial expression, and body language. This helps them to gauge a situation, and select the appropriate course of action. For example, a child may not understand what the word ‘no’ means. However, their mother’s actions, tone of voice, or facial expression can help them to determine whether they are allowed to do something.
Activities such as waving hello and goodbye, blowing kisses, and clapping can assist children to develop social skills and routines around social interaction, which helps with conversation skills later down the track. These non-verbal communication skills may seem subtle, but they are vital for promoting successful verbal communication and interaction.
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This article was written by our Speech Pathologist Ashleigh Fattah who is a Speech Pathology Australia member. If you have speech pathology related questions, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with simple and effective therapy targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.