Most children go through stages where their brains outpace their ability to speak and communicate. During these out-of-sync periods, it’s common for them to have melt downs and tantrums. Other children have difficulty communicating due to their extreme shyness, autism, speech delays, learning disabilities and/or having English as a second language. Finding ways to help your child to communicate effectively when words are failing them is challenging. Because the range of communication challenges is so varied, parents must often try varied approaches before striking on the best way to help their child. The four ideas below will help you get started.
4 Outside Of The Box ideas For Children Struggling With Communication:
1. Teach calming strategies. Children who struggle to communicate are prone to have melt downs. Take time, when your child is calm, to discuss different ways they can calm themselves down when frustration takes over. Give multiple methods a try to find which works best for your child. For some children simply talking a walk is enough to help them regain control. Others may benefit from breathing techniques or visualization. Teaching your child how to gain control on their own is a huge step toward helping them convey their needs without tantrums.
2. Use sign language. All kids, with and without communication issues, can benefit from using “baby” sign language. Baby sign language teaches children to use simple hand gestures to express how they are feeling and what their needs are. It is not ASL (American Sign Language) rather a simplified adaptation designed for young children.
3. Look into AAC – Augmentative and Alternative Communication. Among the vast number of special education resources available to children with communication challenges, AAC is one of the most exciting advances. Apps are available for tablets, computers and smart phones. For children with delayed speech, apraxia and other conditions that limit language, these apps can increase their vocabularies and ability to communicate dramatically.
4. Stick to a routine. Children have fewer melt downs when they know what to expect. Try to keep your home routine predictable. Use pictures to create a timeline for each day so your child can visualize what their day is going to look like. Try using magnets with pictures of things your child regularly wants, needs or feels and keep them on the fridge. If your child is older and reading, use words from a magnetic poetry kit as a similar means of communication.
The internet has opened up the world of special education resources to parents everywhere. Take advantage of information from experts and from parents who have been-there-done-that. You can help your child communicate in a way that best suits their abilities. Be prepared for a lot of trial and error before you discover the approaches that work best for your child but, know that you will find your way.