In the past few months of blogging I have seen this phrase “#wordlesswednesday” floating around every week. It usually is accompanied by a picture. With no caption. Duh it’s wordless Wednesday it can’t have a caption. That got me thinking what’s the point in that? To limit yourself to no words online for that post on that day. Why would you bother? You have the magic ability of words, of communication and language why the hell would you choose not to use them? Many people don’t have that privilege you know. Ding..there’s the lightbulb moment. Why not talk about it Alex? Why not discuss your confusion and frustration with this apparent advantage taking of the beautiful concept of vocabulary. Don’t get me wrong my friends, I am not offended by people posting an incredible picture and saying wordless Wednesday because I see the point and I see the “picture can say a thousand word” idea..but as an SEN associate I can’t disconnect my brain from that very idea that having speech is a privilege.
In my time working with and being around children of all ages and abilities, there have been so many different forms of communication which I have seen. I have heard different languages spoken between people, I have seen people switch between two languages in one sentence, I’ve seen people communicate in sign language, I’ve seen people communicating via PECS and I’ve seen people be able to communicate just by a look. Communication is such an important part of our everyday life that we take it for granted, so I really couldn’t imagine not being able to use words just for a day. It’s like when you have one of them nightmares where you’re screaming in someone’s face but they walk right past you, they can’t hear you and you’re in this icy state of panic. That feeling is why I find communication so interesting and why I am so passionate about helping children develop their communication and language skills so they never feel misunderstood again.
What is communication and language
The Oxford Dictionary states that communication is “the successful conveying or sharing of ideas and feelings.” this suggests that communication is based upon being understood and being able to connect with others so they understand you which is such a basic need for everyone whether you think about it or not. The idea of not being able to get somebody to understand you is such a frustrating and confidence-knocking feeling, have you ever been abroad and trying to ask someone a question and them not understand you? Imagine having that feeling all of the time, I just cannot comprehend how awful that must feel.
For my birthday I received a book all about working with additional needs children and I have been reading their speech, language and communication chapters where I found this quote which I feel like covers some very important aspects of communication and also where people with any speech, lanuage and communication struggle. The book states that
To communicate we must understand taking turns, the appropriate ways to get people’s attention, body language, conversational turn taking, facial expressions, sarcasm idioms, eye contact and intonation.
Different forms of communication
There are so many different types of communication in the world which we can use to help people to express themselves and to get people to understand you. I want to give you a few examples of different forms of language and communication and a brief explaination of them so you can become aware of what is available and being use throughout the population.
PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) is a form of communication which is based upon a collection of universal pictures which provide non/pre-verbal people a way to communicate their needs. PECS is massively used by people with non-verbal Autism as it provides a simple means of communication which can be understood by the person and whoever they are trying to communicate with (especially since the picture has the word it represents on it for people who aren’t familiar with PECS to undersand).
BSL/ASL is British or American Sign Language which is a set language communicates by a series of hand signs/actions which is usually used by people who are deaf, partially deaf or other hearing problems. It is generally quite a well known form of communication as it is seen on TV to translate shows and it is also used within many childcare settings too.
Makaton is a form of communication which is very similar to sign language as it uses hand actions/signs however it is not to replace verbal communication but to supplement it. So if you watch CBeebies you will see Mr Tumble use Makaton which is signs which relate to what he is saying so that they can translate the main points of the sentence but he also speaks whilst doing it.
According to the Communication Trust there are around one million children (The BBC estimated around 1 in 10 children) have some form of communication and language issues which are mostly prevelant within their early years (0-5 years). This is obviously a huge issue which I feel need to be talked about and way to sort it needs to be found. In the YouGov survey posted by The Communication Trust shows that only 27% of the 349 teachers surveyed had had any training on speech and language and 81% felt like they would benefit from the training; that means that 282 out of the 349 teachers felt like they would benefit from speech, language and communication training. This is obviously a crazy amount of teachers that don’t have the training but would love it, which could really help the children who have the struggles to overcome them which is important because around 50-90% of children with persistent speech, language and communication difficulties go on to have reading difficulties. So these communication issues end up having a longer lasting impact on their other areas of development, which should be prevented at all costs.
I went into the early years sector to help children and to make a difference to their futures and their education journey. I believe that the basics and the problems should be laid out and sorted before the child heads to primary school, which is something that I see within these statistics from the Communication Trust, as if they are sorted during the early years stage then they are less likely to affect their education and their futures negatively. As a practitioner I like to emphasise the importance of communication and can’t wait until I am fully qualified to be able to take more training and more action on communication as a whole. We have started teaching and learning basic Sign Language and Makaton within nursery in all age groups so that the children can use and be aware of different forms of communication needs and types.
I personally have a professional interest in areas such as communication and additional needs which I feel like go hand in hand, this is something I wanted to write about to raise awareness of the issue and to introduce this area of my job onto my blog so I can write much more about it. I plan to write about the journey and the process of working with the autistic child I nanny for with his communication. I also just want to raise awareness for this topic as a whole and how important it is for us to know about communication and how we can help others especially if they’re our children or our patients or our friends.
Here are some resources and websites to check out if you want to find out more about communication and all the different types of communication