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Encouraging Communication in Children who are Nonverbal Tips for Connecting With Children Who are Nonverbal In childhood, you learn that communication is the key to developing satisfying relationships.

  • Tactile experiences are important too;
  • Tactile experiences are important too;
  • The good news is, recent research offers a number of effective strategies that are giving hope to families everywhere;
  • So, what happens to communication when a child is nonverbal?

So, what happens to communication when a child is nonverbal? Here are some things to know about how to understand and connect with children and adolescents who are nonverbal.

Nonverbal Communication is Still Communication Most children who are nonverbal will learn how to communicate in some way, but it might not always be through spoken language. And because every child is unique, it might take parents, teachers and caregivers a long time to determine which strategies work best for each child who is nonverbal. Some communication strategies include visual supports like picture books and flashcards and assistive technologies.

Some Children Eventually Develop Language Promoting language development in children who are nonverbal is something parents, teachers and caregivers strive to do each and every day.

Tips for Connecting With Children Who are Nonverbal

The good news is, recent research offers a number of effective strategies that are giving hope to families everywhere. The strategies can be complicated and extensive, but below are simplified versions of a few that might be helpful.

  • Make sure your child has the opportunity to play with a variety of toys like balls, play dough and blocks, all with different textures, shapes and colors;
  • Tactile experiences are important too;
  • Children who are nonverbal, especially autistic children, are like sponges, soaking in and subsequently mirroring the emotions and moods of those around them;
  • Some Children Eventually Develop Language Promoting language development in children who are nonverbal is something parents, teachers and caregivers strive to do each and every day;
  • Make sure your child has the opportunity to play with a variety of toys like balls, play dough and blocks, all with different textures, shapes and colors.

Leave space for communication. When you notice your child wants something, or after you ask a question, pause for a bit and look expectantly at the child. Watch for sounds or body movements, and then respond right away. Some parents of autistic children or children who are nonverbal find themselves searching for clues as to who their children are, what they need, and how to help them.

  • Leave space for communication;
  • Playing with a variety of toys, like hula hoops, marbles, water beads, play dough, bean bags, Legos and dolls can help prevent the child from fixating on one specific toy.

When you relax, your child relaxes, and that can go a long way toward making a communication breakthrough. The safer and more comfortable your child feels with you, the easier it will be for them to communicate. Who knows, you might just find answers where you least expect them.

Playtime is Important All children, but especially children who are nonverbal, learn a lot through play. Some children even learn a lot of their language skills while playing with other kids. Finding interactive ways for your child to play is a great way to encourage language progression.

Again, there are many theories on how to go about this, but here are some we think are worth looking at closely.

Focus on activities that encourage social interaction. Activities like singing, dancing, reciting nursery rhymes, physical games and even gentle roughhousing can promote communication. Playing with a variety of toys, like hula hoops, marbles, water beads, play dough, bean bags, Legos and dolls can help prevent the child from fixating on one specific toy.

Tactile experiences are important too. Make sure your child has the opportunity to play with a variety of toys like balls, play dough and blocks, all with different textures, shapes and colors.

Make playing an interactive, educational experience by using a variety of colors and reviewing the color names as you play.

Staying close to your child during play time can help them focus in case their minds start to wander. Try imitation games and cause-and-effect toys.

Asking a child who is nonverbal to engage in imitation play like Simon Says can be a great way for them to socialize and build communication skills. Cause and effect toys are also important because they teach a child that when they do something, it causes a reaction. With any strategy, it is important to remain calm and patient. Children who are nonverbal, especially autistic children, are like sponges, soaking in and subsequently mirroring the emotions and moods of those around them.

The more stressed and anxious a parent becomes, the more stressed out the child will be, and the more difficult any type of communication will become.

Encouraging Communication in Children

But when parents learn to calm themselves first, it can do wonders for them and the child. As parents and caregivers become calmer, their intuitions will start to kick in and help them see how their child is communicating Interested in connecting more to the Northwestern Medicine community? Because what makes you better, makes us better.