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 young person will have their own profile which may change over time. Some young people may have difficulty producing sounds and words (e.g. stuttering or mutism), and they may use visual forms of communication instead (e.g. gestures, picture cards, or Augmentative or Alternative Communication (AAC) systems or devices). Other students may find understanding visual communication challenging.
Some teens 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 with 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?
- Students can often participate successfully in learning when given extra time and clear and specific instructions.
- Some students may have good visual perceptual skills. They may be good at visual searches and recognition.
Where might you provide support?
- Some students with communication disorders may have difficulty understanding or talking about abstract information (e.g. a figure of speech, or facts about objects that cannot be seen or touched).
- Some young people with communication challenges may have trouble expressing how they feel. This can cause frustration and disruptive behaviours. They may have other behavioural challenges such as impulsivity and hyperactivity.
- Some students may be easily distracted and find it challenging to focus on activities.
- Students with communication disorders may have difficulties with interacting with other students and making friends.
Best practice tips
Set clear rules and expectations
Consider using slower speech
Ensure that you have the student’s full attention before communicating
Encourage full participation
Be aware of your body language
Encourage positive role-models
Visit our resources page for a range of resources that can help to create inclusive education environments for students with disabilities and developmental challenges. Some particularly relevant resources for students with communication disorders include: