Communicating With Kids Who Have Special Needs

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“We treat every non-verbal indication as a communication and try to work out what Gaby is trying to say to us.”

In “23 Ways to Communicate With a Non-Verbal Child,” parents and caregivers share insight into communicating with kids with special needs. The tips were gathered by Scope, an informational website and community for families and special needs professionals. Tips include approaches for:
  • Helping kids make eye contact. One parent puts stickers on his forehead to engage his son’s interest in looking at people’s faces. Another person suggests that someone who has difficulty with communication might try making eye contact with you in a mirror.
  • Using signals. One girl claps her hands to indicate the word “Yes.” Another child taps his caregiver’s hand to indicate his preference for something.
  • Communicating in other ways. Many nonverbal individuals express themselves well through creative pursuits like dancing, painting, and even singing. Communicating well with animals is also often a strength.

People who have difficulty communicating verbally can express themselves with gestures, movements, and other signals to communicate their thoughts, preferences, needs, and interests. To help kids with special needs communicate with success rather than frustration, be sure to avoid focusing on deficits. Help build strengths instead.

Parents and caregivers also stress that it’s important to talk to kids who don’t speak. Whether a child understands every word you say or whether she has a limited understanding of the words you speak, it’s important to talk to her to ensure that she feels like a part of what’s happening.

Read even more tips.
Get more tips on Scope. Topics include:
  • Verbal and nonverbal communication
  • Dressing and grooming
  • Health and hygiene
  • Behavior and routines
  • Activities and games
  • Help and support

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“I believe that more often than many people think is possible, we can prevent problems from getting out of control. We can make each other safer.”