As parents we all know that communication may be a real issue when raising one or more children with special needs. Communication seems to be the most complicated task to accomplish and it can really affect the child´s performance at school.
Parents have a natural understanding of their children´s clues for communication, as they grow up. For example, they may understand that “baba” means food, but the problem hits families when it is time to face school and nobody else understands their child.
Raising children with special needs may bring a mix of emotions to your life. I am sure that you want your child to succeed and be treated equally, but this is not going to happen if you don´t have realistic expectations about his or her personal abilities. You need to help your child to be able to communicate and be understood by others, not just with you.
The importance of creating a balance between limits and abilities
- More hours of therapy a week will not accelerate his learning but will guide the child through the process of learning while getting ready to start talking. Never forget therapy doesn´t fix a child but brings out the best in him.
- Words are not the only way to communicate. Explore alternative ways to make communication easier and accessible by using methods like visual cards or pictures, baby signs, or a special book that he can brings to school for pointing out his preferred activities or his personal needs like being thirsty or in need of going to the bathroom.
- Write down the personal sounds he uses along with the meaning, for the teacher´s benefit. This will help the teacher communicate with your child and boost his confidence and ability to learn.
Communication should not be a stressful time to be faced at school time if you work with your child from the beginning. The ideal thing to do is to start these alternative ways of communication as soon as possible, integrating simple oral stimulation exercises since your baby is just born:
- Cleaning your babies gums after each feed
- Brushing his gums and tongue with a baby tooth brush
- Massaging his cheeks and lips gently not only will help the baby, but will also create a very intimate moment between baby and mom.
Important tips for families when raising children with special needs
- Don´t stop talking to the child because he doesn´t respond to your or seems not to understand. You are feeding the brain with every word you say
- Start conversations with the child, asking simple questions like: “What´s your name” or “how old are you”? Make this a daily game to empower your child´s understanding while teaching him the magic of talking
- Create a special book for your child that he can help elaborate throughout the years with pictures of his preferred games, activities and favorites foods. Let him be an active part of this and other activities by taking the lead.