People who are not used to seeing a child with special needs often find the kid strange and feel uncomfortable in the child’s presence. Funny thing is, the child does not feel that way! He/she does not know the same methods of communication that you do.
We’re the “normal” ones, aren’t we? Is it normal to expect a child with brain damage to comply to your view of proper etiquette or social behavior? Why don’t we, for once, instead of expecting them to catch up with our standards, try and understand how we can talk in a way familiar to the kids and enable them to respond to us?
Use these pointers to strike up that conversation –
- Do not speak loudly unless you know for a fact that the child has difficulty hearing.
- Touch is an important way for these kids to express their emotions and judge yours. Let them touch your hand or face and do the same thing back, if you think that would help you get the meaning across.
- Use actions, gestures, words, and signs to convey what you mean to the child.
- Use these pointers consistently. The child will slowly come to associate the action to the meaning.
- Give the child time to process what is being said.
- Do not repeat your commands, suggestions, questions more than twice at a time.
- Prompt answers when you know that the child has understood, again use the prompts only once or twice at a time. Physically guide the child with the answer – how to say/do it.
- Develop a comfortable communication system, generalize this system with other family members and friend. Or, learn the existing practices the family uses to communicate with the child.
- Believe that the child is much more than the diagnosis given and capable of reaching for the stars with you all by his/her side!