A special needs child is a term applied to any child with a physical or learning disability or a behavioral or emotional disorder. And sometimes such a child might have more than one type of limitation. Many special needs children have no verbal communication or are very limited in this area. This means that parents and caretakers of such children must learn how to effectively communicate with them. Here are four methods to try:
You can help your special needs child understand what you are saying by using gestures such as nodding and pointing and focused eye contact. Especially in the beginning, these gestures may need to be prolonged or overemphasized until your child learns to understand them. All children enjoy responding to exaggerated nonverbal communications with their own movements and gestures, so it’s easy to make the learning process into a fun game.
Talking and Reading
Exposure to communication is a key element in any learning process, so speak and read to your special needs child just as you would to any child. Your goal should be to make your child feel that you are treating them just as well as their siblings. Also, don’t assume that because your child is verbally restricted that they lack the ability to understand.
- Change Your Phrases – It’s best to start off with simple language, but over time you can experiment with expanding your child’s understanding of different words. For instance, you can begin by saying, “please go through the door.” You can then switch to, “please enter through the door” or “please go through into the kitchen. “
- Use Pictures – Saying the word represented by a picture can help the child associate the word with the real world. It’s best to start off with depictions of single items rather than pictures with confusingly busy backgrounds. As the child develops more understanding of words, you can introduce pictures with more challenging scenery or pictures containing several objects.
Inform your child about what you are doing as you go about your daily tasks. In the grocery store, count the oranges out loud as you pick them out and verbally check off the items on your shopping list. Young children love to help, so when you get home, encourage your child to assist with storing and organizing the shopping. Continue the learning process by repeating the names and amounts of the items going into the cupboard or the refrigerator.
Using Music and Art
Music and art are creative ways for nonverbal children to express themselves and connect with others without the use of words. Music can also be a motivational aid. During stressful situations, it might be helpful for you to sing to your child or dance with them to music. Many special needs children become frustrated because they are unable to finish a difficult task. However, with art, there is no right or wrong way to make a painting or sculpture – no way to fail.
Realize that Help is Available
Caring for a special needs child requires a lot of patience and hard work. However, you don’t have to do it all yourself. If you live in Columbia, SC, Caring Healthcare will work with you and your family to develop a plan that enhances communication and expands opportunities for your child. With everyone working together, your child will benefit exponentially. Contact us to learn more about how we can provide specialized care for your beloved special needs child in the comfort of your own home.