Children with Developmental Disabilities: 5 Communication Tips

How to Improve Communication with Children with Developmental Disabilities

In most instances, children with developmental disabilities need aided instruction when learning to communicate effectively. To provide these children with a nurturing and supportive environment to learn in, here are five things all caregivers and instructors should take into consideration when trying to communicate with special needs children.

5 Things to Remember When Communicating with Children with Developmental Disabilities

Connection Matters Most

The most important thing to remember when communicating with special needs children is that all people crave connection. Despite our different abilities, all people want to feel seen, supported, accepted, and acknowledged. These children are no different; even if they struggle to communicate effectively, they still deserve connection, communication, and effort.

Nonverbal Communication is Important

Some children will be nonverbal–and that’s okay. Continue to support and value their nonverbal communication skills and try your best to cater to their specific needs. Just because a child is nonverbal doesn’t mean that they always can’t understand you, so be mindful of their different abilities.

Don’t Make Assumptions

Some disabilities are physically apparent, while others are not. Every child is developmentally different, and it’s essential not to make assumptions about their ability to communicate. To get the most out of your interaction, ask questions! By doing this, you will receive the needed information. After all, the more questions you ask, the better your communication skills with special needs children will get.

Be Honest

Similarly to not making assumptions, it’s essential to be honest and open when you can’t understand a child. Instead of further contributing to their frustration with their ability to communicate, find other ways to help them explain what they’re trying to say. Taking the time to understand them will communicate that you care and, in turn, will make them feel valued.

Be Patient

Above all, remember that these children are much more than their developmental disability. They are people with likes, dislikes, feelings, beliefs, and dreams, and they should never be overlooked due to their disability. Remaining patient while they learn to communicate, may seem frustrating at times, but it is essential to being a supportive instructor.

3 Communications Tips & Activities

Use Concrete Language

Using concrete language can make a big difference for children with developmental disabilities. Concrete language provides readers and speakers with a clear understanding of what is being said. Without concrete language, communication would seem vague or open to interpretation. For special needs children, they need concise and clear wording, so using concrete over abstract language will help tremendously when trying to communicate with them.

Practice Storytelling with Picture Cards

Telling stories, reading books aloud, and using picture cards are excellent activities for strengthening communication skills while still being enjoyable activities. Using visual guides and pictures instead of words makes communication much easier for children with special needs.

Provide Choices

Instead of simply providing a special needs child with a toy, snack, etc., provide them with a few options. It’s important not to give too many options that overwhelm them, but offering two or three choices encourages communication skills and makes them feel independent to make choices for themselves.

How The Deron School Can Help

Since 1967, the Deron School has offered a state-approved private school program and services tailored to fit your child’s needs. If you believe that your child would benefit from our wide array of resources and services, don’t hesitate to reach out to our leadership team with any admission inquiries.

Check out the 2021-2022 Alliance Parent Advocacy Series
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