Often the people with communication difficulties in our lives are really good at one thing: asking for things. They can make requests for food, favourite shows, places to go, YouTube videos… you name it! If they want it, they learn a way to ask for it!
But what about all those other reasons we communicate? Here is a great visual from Kate Ahern to show us just SOME of the different reasons that we communicate. Sharing information, social connectedness and telling stories does not always come naturally to people with communication difficulties. But helping them to learn how to communicate for these different reasons, can give them such POWER! The power to say what they think and feel and so much more!
Reasons we communicate - Kate Ahern
So how can we help them to MOVE ON from requesting, and build more language to communicate for different reasons?
The simplest answer is to: MODEL it for them. Show them on their AAC system how they could express how they feel, show them how they could make comments, show them how they could tell you stories. You do it, and they can watch and learn what words they need, where to find the words, and how to combine them. Model it within natural, engaging activities.
And remember to be consistent, patient and persistent… you may have to model this for a while, without expecting anything in return, before they use it; but when they do, the payoff is huge!
Hear Rupert’s story as he learnt to move on and feel strong!
Looking at communication functions can be a really useful way to plan how you could help an individual with a communication impairment to move on. It can give you ideas for other reasons to communicate that could be modeled in everyday life. Find a full list of Communication Functions on the AssistiveWare Core Word Classroom. In the class you can find many Core Word Planners that can help you teach and model core words for many different communication functions. These planners will give you lots of ways to move on from requesting!
~ Amanda Hartmann
Amanda is a Speech-Language Pathologist with over 19 years experience working in schools and with families and as a technology consultant. All this has led to a passion for working with children and young adults with disabilities and learning difficulties. She gives lectures on Augmentative and Alternative Communication at the University of Queensland and loves sharing what she knows about AAC and literacy!