"My approach to intervention is rooted in respect for child development and focuses on making the mundane meaningful, looking at daily interactions as opportunities for learning and growth while respecting the uniqueness of the individual and family. It’s about setting high expectations for long term quality of life and relationships for individuals on the spectrum and implementing a specific and doable plan to get there one step at a time.”
– Lauren Wilson, LCSW, RDI® Program Certified Consultant

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Tool Box Tuesday: Communication in Context

I'm sure you've seen this video clip before.  It's been viewed over 134 million times on youtube since it was posted a few years ago.  I imagine many of those are from fellow professionals who work with children with social communication disorders and their parents.  We watch in awe because when you're in the thick of working through a social communication disorder it can be easy to forget or misunderstand, misremember what typical communication looks like and so important the order in which is grows.

In this clip we do not hear a single word.  Not one.  And yet a two minute shared conversation is taking place with no script.  We see clearly the foundations of communication with words - and without the foundations solidly in place, the words mean little.  Words without this foundation are out of context.

Consider the word, just the word, stop.  What does it mean?  Our first thought might be "cease something".  But is this always the case?  Grab a partner and say the word 'stop' in different ways, with different facial expressions.  Each time you do - you are providing context.  How does this shape the meaning of the word?

The first word any neurotypical child may say varies - however somewhere in that first 5-10 is often the word "uh-oh".  After all as parents we're saying it constantly as things go flying off the highchair tray and items are dumped out and dropped.  We're always saying it in context and with meaning to connect as well as explain.  Without any direct instruction infants/early toddlers begin using it in context, using it with prosody, and using it for the same reason - with meaning and to connect as well as explain to a communication partner.

This week consider how much shared communication is in the context of communication foundations that provide the stage for the meaning and use of words.  Add context by putting words in the background and bringing context - facial expressions, prosody, body language to the forefront.

Until next week,

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