How to Start Working on Fundamental Communication and Language Skills

June 11, 2019

Our teachers and therapists help students learn so many skills.

One of the most important skill areas for children attending Crossroads is learning to communicate in functional ways.

Learning to ask for what he or she wants and needs will serve him or her all through life, while engaging in behaviors that are non-functional or maladaptive will not. Learning to understand what others say will serve them through life. Learning to follow functional directions – stand up, close the door, get a tissue, sit down – will also. So will being able to identify the parts of their body – my tummy hurts, I banged my head, my throat is dry – and the names of the things they use in life – cereal, pillow, cup…

The understanding that language is how we communicate with others is something that most children at Crossroads are working on. Many of our students are verbal when they come to us. Many are not. For children who are learning about the exchange of language, therapists and teachers often use P.E.C.S. (Picture Exchange Communication System).

To give a simplified explanation, the wanted item is given when the child asks using a picture of it. In this way, the child is reinforced for communicating his/her needs in a functional manner. His asking for it is also reinforced by the teacher repeatedly saying the word for the item. Too, many children begin to mimic the teacher/therapist’s verbal presentation of the word, beginning to speak for the first time.

There are many phases of learning P.E.C.S. Once grasped, the system of communication can transition to assistive technology applications, such as Prologue2Go a favored one on our iPads here at Crossroads.

Mostly these types of communication and language goals are established by our Speech Language Pathologists. Everyone on the child’s team – including his or her parents – carries out the work on the goals here at Crossroads. Together they make a difference for each student.

Thanks for reading! Please add your comments below to share your stories about learning or teaching functional communication.

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