About communication and language disorders
‘Communication’ is the exchange of both verbal and nonverbal information. It includes talking, as well as the understanding of words, visual information, body language, facial expressions, and gestures (e.g. pointing, waving hello, nodding your head to mean “yes”).
Some students may need support with communication. Each child will have their own profile which may change over development. Some children may have difficulty producing sounds and words (e.g. stuttering or mutism), and they may use visual aspects of communication instead (e.g. gestures, eye contact or picture cards). Other students may find understanding visual communication challenging.
Some students may need support with using and understanding spoken language. A student’s ability to understand spoken language may be different from their ability to use spoken language. For example, a student might be able talk and express themselves clearly, but they may find it harder to understand instructions, especially if they are long or complex.
Some students may require support with using verbal and nonverbal communication in social situations. For example, some students may have trouble understanding the meaning behind greetings (e.g. saying hello, shaking hands) or taking turns in conversations. Other students may not understand humour and jokes, or metaphors.
What might be some strengths?
- Some students with communication disorders participate successfully in learning when given clear and specific instructions.
- Some children may have good visual perceptual skills. They may be good at visual searches and recognition.
Where might you provide support?
- Some students may be reluctant to participate in classroom activities and discussions where language is used.
- Some may have difficulties with interacting with other students and making friends.
- Some children may find it hard to express how they feel. This can cause frustration and challenging behaviours.
- Some students may be easily distracted and find it challenging to focus on activities.
Best practice tips
Create a safe and supportive environment
Set clear rules and expectations
Consider using slower speech
Encourage positive role-models
Consider pairing the student with a buddy
Visit our resources page for a range of resources that can help to create inclusive education environments for children with disabilities and developmental challenges. Some particularly relevant resources for children with communication disorders include: