As a speech and language therapist I have sat through many consultations and assessments and a big part of my job is to help parents understand how to help their child. I can safely say the most common comment I get from parents is:
'My child is ok, he can name all the colors, count to 100 and also knows the name of most animals; he just doesn't ask us if he needs anything.'
The hardest part of my job, is telling those parents, that their child is 'not ok' because although he knows all that information, he is unable to communicate.
So what's communication and why is it so important? Here are three scenarios that will help define and understand what 'communication' is all about.
A little boy named Mohamed was trying to reach for a plate of crackers, he accidentally pushed the plate off the table and it fell on the floor. Mohamed gasps and looks over to his mother, he then shifts his attention from his mother, to the plate and crackers on the floor and then back to his mother again. He keeps looking back and forth until his mother notices the crackers. Did Mohamed communicate? Yes he did. Although Mohamed did not use any words, he was able to communicate to his mother that the crackers fell on the floor.
Another little boy named Khalid walks into the living room, takes a DVD out of the drawer and puts it in the DVD player. He then switches on the DVD player and starts watching the movie. Did Khalid Communicate? No he did not.
A little girl named Sara is thirsty, she starts crying then gets up walks to the fridge and starts saying 'juice, juice'. Did Sara communicate? Surprisingly No, she didn't.
Why did we label Mohamed as a child who communicates, even though he didn't say anything, yet Sara who spoke up and said the word 'juice' is considered non communicative ? Well ...
Communication does not always involve speaking, but it can only occur when two people are present and the 'communication' (verbal or non-verbal) is directed to a person, not an object or the environment.
So in Sara's case, although she was 'talking' she wasn't communicating with another person. Children who are able to name objects, colors, count to hundred and read, yet cannot request something the need, are considered non-communicators and do require support to develop their communication skills.
If you are worried about your child's communication skills, it's important to seek the support of a Speech & Language Therapist. Online support and consultations are available on the Little Village Website (click here)