Being able to communicate our wants and needs is a major area we focus on in speech and language therapy.
Imagine not having the ability to communicate your daily needs, such as requesting a drink or notifying someone you need to use the bathroom. Whether we are adults or children this can be a reality for some. What I am describing is a need for 'functional communication'.
Functional communication is communication that helps us function in our day to day lives by expressing our needs and feelings effectively.
When people have difficulty conveying their basic needs, wants and feelings it can cause them to feel frustrated. Giving these individuals strategies to use to help their communication is key to lessening the frustration and increasing effective communication.
Here are strategies you can use to help with functional communication:
1. Teach various ways to communicate:
Gestures, signs, AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication), or model verbal words/phrases.
Speech Therapist can help you with different forms of AAC. There are low tech options such as PEC (a picture exchange system) and Core Boards or High Tech options such as electronic devices with software.
2. Give Choices:
Offering common/preferred choices can help reduce the frustration of communication by limiting the potentially overwhelming options. For example: If it's time to eat, offer two items (only what is realistically a choice) at a time rather than everything in the fridge or on a plate.
3. Modeling words or phrases:
Modeling words or phrases is a good way to help someone else use the right words to communicate. Communication can be difficult for a variety of reasons including lack of language/vocabulary skills, or impaired recall/memory. By using this strategy you can help these individuals by bringing the appropriate vocabulary to the forefront for them use for communication. For example: if someone is trying reaching for a drink you could say 'I want drink', or 'thirsty'. They may repeat the word or phrase after you since you helped them with finding the right words to use.
Using visuals is a HUGE way to help people with communication difficulties. Smarty Symbols is ONE great technology that allows you to make customized boards with images as seen in this blog. Customized boards help as they are specific for each individuals needs. We can help and so can the people are Smarty Symbols. Tell them we sent you if you visit!
Reach out to us if we can be of more help as you navigate along your communication journey.