January 2008 - Revised
Communication is the exchange of a message between two or more people. Everyone communicates in many different ways and for many different reasons.
Communication can be expressive or receptive. Children who are deaf-blind may never learn to talk. However, they can express themselves to you. They can receive the messages you send them.
Through communication, children can make changes in their world. They can express their wants and needs. They can make choices.
Through communication, you can teach your child to play, to learn about the world, to interact with you, to do daily tasks, and to work.
One of the best indicators of a child’s use of effective communication is the rate of communication. What does this mean? The more a child communicates, the better he/she will communicate. How does he communicate more? Children communicate more when they are provided frequent opportunities to communicate. Opportunities to communicate should be included across functional activities and caregiving routines.
Let’s take a look at the functional activities that occur at home or at school. For the younger child, these may be eating, bathing, changing clothes, and playing with a sister or brother. For an older child, these may include swimming, cooking, and working. Providing opportunities and being responsive are two of the most frequent methods to increase a child’s communication.
Functional Activity-----------------Ways Child May Communicate
Eating-----------------------------Opens mouth for "more."
Drinking---------------------------Extends cup for "more."
Swimming------------------------Raises hand for "out."
Dressing--------------------------Touches Mom for "help."
Each child will do this in unique ways. It is necessary to stop, watch the child, and read the message.
Parents and teachers need to work together to do the following:
In the following material, we will use the name "Lee" to represent an infant, child, or young adult who is deaf-blind. Think of Lee as your child, or as the student in your classroom.
What can you do for Lee to increase his interactive communication?
Use of Effective Comminication ---> Rate of Communication ---> Opportunities to Communicate ---> Supported Communication Attempts
This fact sheet was adapted from one originally written by Kathleen Stremel and published and distributed within the state of Mississippi by the Mississippi Statewide Project for Individuals who are Deaf and Blind.
Communication At Home and In the Community: Helpful Strategies & Suggestions From Parents & Families With a Child Who is Deaf-Blind - The National Family Association for Deaf-Blind (NFADB) ; The National Technical Assistance Consortium for Children and Young Adults Who Are Deaf-Blind (NTAC), 2000. A collection of strategies, advice and suggestions from parents of children who are deaf-blind for promoting communication in the home and community. Available from DB-LINK or on the web at: http://nationaldb.org/NCDBProducts.php
Communication Fact Sheets for Parents - Stremel, Kathleen ; Bixler, Betsy ;Morgan, Susanne ; Layton, Kristen. — National Technical Assistance Consortium for Children and Young Adults Who Are Deaf-Blind (NTAC), 2002. These fact sheets provide information to better understand the communication and language modes and systems that may be appropriate for children who are deaf-blind. Available from DB-LINK or on the web at: http://nationaldb.org/NCDBProducts.php
Communication Matrix: Especially for Parents - Rowland, Charity. — Oregon Health & Science University: 2004. A communication skill assessment tool to be used with individuals operating at the earliest stages of communication. This no cost, online version allows the user to enter data on a child and print out a profile and a list of communicative behaviors and intents. A print version is also available. This document is available on the web at: http://www.communicationmatrix.org/
Dimensions of Communication: An Instrument to Assess the Communication Skills and Behaviors of Individuals with Disabilities - Mar, Harvey H., Ph.D; Sall, Nancy, Ed.D. 1999. Assessment instrument designed to help teachers, educational specialists, speech-language therapists, psychologists, and other service providers evaluate the communication skills of persons with multiple disabilities including severe or profound mental retardation and deafblindness. Available from DB-LINK, (800.438.9376) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hand In Hand: Essentials of Communication and Orientation and Mobility for Your Students Who Are Deaf-Blind: Volume I - Huebner, Kathleen Mary (Ed.); Prickett, Jeanne Glidden (Ed.); Welch, Therese Rafalowski (Ed.); Joffee, Elga (Ed.) — AFB Press: 1995. This material is divided into three segments: Key Concepts, Communication, and Orientation and Mobility. Each of these segments is, in turn, divided into 20 self-contained modules which present essential information about deaf-blindness, how deaf-blindness affects learning, and how students who are deaf-blind can develop critical communication and O&M skills. Available from: AFB Press. Publisher’s web site: http://www.afb.org/
Project SALUTE: Successful Adaptations for Learning to Use Touch Effectively. 2001. Federally funded model demonstration project to investigate and identifying effective tactile strategies for deaf-blind children who also have cognitive or physical disabilities. Outcomes for the project, including tools and strategies, are available online at: http://www.projectsalute.net/
Remarkable Conversations: Guide to developing meaningful communication with children and young adults who are deafblind - Miles, Barbara (Ed.); Riggio, Marianne (Ed.) Perkins School for the Blind: 1999, 308. A practical guide for teachers, family members or other service providers playing a role in the life of a child who is deafblind. Good communication is emphasized and illustrated with stories that are based on positive, real experiences. Available from Perkins School for the Blind. Telephone: (617) 972-7328; fax: (617)972-7334.
Understanding Deafblindness: Issues, Perspectives, and Strategies - Alsop, Linda, M.Ed. (Ed.) — SKI-HI Institute, Utah State University: 2002. A comprehensive 2-volume curriculum for parents, interveners, and service providers working with children who are deaf-blind. Aspects of deaf-blind programming covered include communication, concept development, vision, hearing, touch, sensory integration, intervention, family issues, physical education, additional disabilities, orientation and mobility, community support, and evaluation. Available from Hope Publishing, Inc. Phone/Fax: 435-245-2888. http://www.hopepubl.com/
What Do I Do Now? Communication Skills and Strategies for Individuals Working with Young Children Who Have Sensory Impairments - SKI*HI. HOPE Inc. 1997. This set of 24 instructional videos covers all aspects of communication and demonstrates techniques including: signals, turn-taking, active vs. passive, and choice-making.Available from HOPE, Inc., phone/fax: (435) 752-9533; http://www.hopepubl.com/