Non verbal communication can be hard to explain but I go with – spend a few hours with Boo and then come back to me if you cant understand her. The main communication method is a bit of signing, a bit of natural gestures , that is pointing and head nodding, a lot of vocalisation and then photographs, icons and Proloquo to go on iPad. It all works depending on where we are. Her understanding of everything you are talking about is not the issue its the ability to express the actual words in her head that make perfect sense to her. The eyes would drill into you and say it all. Aps and AAC may not suit everyone but there are a range of options to talk to a speech therapist and school about.
We have learned that speech therapy for a child who cannot really talk goes back to basics of communication. Where we had been concentrating on sounds and words we had to go back to real basics of listening and concentrating on the eye contact. Boy can she make it easy to follow what she is looking and aiming at. The turn taking and stopping what we are doing to go to her level and follow her lead really helped. We had to stop using so many words.
At the start this all appeared a bit obvious but like a lot of things we were not doing the obvious. We are using sounds and words and Boo is quiet clearly a ‘non verbal communicator’. She uses eyes, signs, pointing and brute force to tell you what to do. As her understanding of words is not the issue it took a while for us to get our heads around why are we trying to get her to say words that she understands when she may not be actually able to say them. ie Asking a question but does that child understand the concept of a question.
She does use words when very highly motivated, for example to say hiya or hello to a complete stranger to get their undivided attention. Usually they have something nice she wants. With people she knows the smile and shout or wave is enough. If the family are on the off chance not talking to her and having their own conversation (hard to imagine) then we are more likely to get attempts at words or she has just come out with names or ‘I ‘ which covers ‘I want’ or ‘I will do’. So we know she can say words. Likewise ‘here’ or ‘there’ is a clear instruction of where to put things for her or where you will find what she wants. Big on names.
Her use of pictures has progressed to basic categories and they work well for not only choosing things but for her to be able to tell us what she wants to do or where we are going. We also realised by telling her where we are going in the car and showing a picture of place she was less frustrated as she is well aware of every route we take and where everyone lives.
The receptive language, ie understanding is streets ahead of her expressive , ie what she can say so we give her alternative ways to ‘say’ a word. A picture or symbol or sign means she is saying that word in a way she can. HB logo is clearly an ice-cream – not rocket science.
When people say “oh look at your dolly, a lovely dolly what is her name can you show me.” Good god how many questions can you ask a child who cant speak and changing the vocab in each part. Just say ‘doll’, then maybe ‘Boos doll’.
In the links section, at the bottom of ‘Welcome to our journey’ – see the reference to The Hanen Centre whose approach has worked very well for Boo. I found it really helpful to see the level she was at in terms of communication so then I could see how the ‘experts’ were evaluating her