Communication Is Not Just Answering Questions

*This post was written by Tingxuan Bonnie, one of our speech pathologist, imagining what it might be like being one of our non-speaking and attempting to put herself in their shoes. Read on to the end to find useful, practical communication strategies!

Hi everyone, I’m an autistic child who is now using single words to communicate. One night, I made a wish upon shooting stars. My wish is to write a letter to my parents so that they know what is in my head.

Here is the letter I wrote:

“Dear parents,
Thank you for your love and care with this special task given to you. I see that you are trying your best to help me talk every day. I know you are hoping that I can learn as quickly as possible. I can hear you asking me a lot of questions, like ‘What colour is this?’ ‘How many do you want?’. I want to answer those questions, but most of the time I don’t know how to. I wish you can show it to me, but I don’t want to answer questions all the time. I want to learn to communicate other things as well!

  • I want to tell you my feelings. When I’m feeling excited, and when I’m feeling frustrated.
  • I want to tell you that I really like cars and trains.
  • I want to tell you that playing with bubbles is so much fun!
  • I want to tell you when I do not like you touching my cars when I line them up.
  • I want to tell you when I want to watch Cocomelon.
  • I want to know what I can say to get your attention.
  • I want to know how to say ‘hi’ when I meet people who come to our house.
  • I want to tell you the interesting things I see through the window when you are driving.
  • I also want to ask you questions too because there is always so much to explore every day.
  • There is so much more….

While I’m learning to use words to express all of these. I’m also using other ways to communicate. Sometimes I might take you to the things that I want. I might use gestures to show that I need help. Other times I might look at you to let you know that I like you jumping with me on the trampoline. I might grab the puzzle when I want to finish playing with the legos. I might tell you I’m very upset with my body. These other ways are also meaningful and I wish you can see them and respond to me when I do so!

You may be surprised about what is going on in my head. Luckily, I know that a speech pathologist can help you learn more about how I communicate and how to better support me!

Thank you mummy and daddy.
Love
Your beautiful child…”

Why not try this?
Imagine you are your child, what would you want to do?
Do you want to be bombarded by so many questions that you don’t even know the answer to?
Or do you feel you want to communicate other things?

Communication involves –

  • Commenting
  • Requesting
  • Refusing/rejecting
  • Expressing feelings
  • Sharing ideas
  • Giving opinions
  • Saying ‘hi’ and ‘bye’ to people
  • Getting mummy’s attention
  • Or even asking questions when I’m so curious about the things around me

How can we support children to communicate?

  • Acknowledge our children’s way of communicating
  • Find your child’s interest
  • Follow your child’s lead
  • Create a positive experience for communication
  • Start with commenting what your child is doing, thinking or feeling
  • Wait to give your child time and a turn to initiate

Let’s and provide them with an environment that they actively want to communicate!

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