By: Lauren Gebhard
Have you ever had something you really needed or wanted to communicate with someone and for whatever reason…you just couldn’t? It can be frustrating, discouraging and may even leave us feeling helpless. I think we can all agree that these are feelings that we never want a child to experience. Especially when it comes to communication. Our goal is to empower, motivate and assist children in regards to all of their communication efforts. There are many ways to facilitate and encourage both receptive and expressive language and overall communication. One of our favorite methods is called errorless communication. The name might say it all but if it doesn’t, let me explain…
Errorless communication is method of facilitating and encouraging any and all communication efforts that a child makes. To carry out this type of communication, a message is prerecorded on a voice output device such as a single message switch or a multi-level communication device that can be activated by a single touch. As we know, each child has different physical abilities. Therefore, some children may activate the voice output device with their hand, some with their head or even their eyes. Auditory and physical prompts such as hand over hand or hand under hand may be necessary depending on the child’s physical abilities and exposure to these devices being presented. After the device is activated and the messaged is spoken, the child’s communication partner speaks positively in response to anything the child has communicated. The communication effort the child is making cannot be wrong. This ensures the child is successful. This is important because it is true that no one likes to do anything that they are going to do wrong. This exchange and interaction between the child and their communication partner supports and nurtures the child’s
This process gives endless opportunities for the child to answer a questions, take turns, participate in a games and have conversation all while building confidence in their communication abilities. With errorless communication a child can interact with his family, teachers and peers in a way that may not have seemed possible before. It opens the doors to allow a child who may not have ever been able to comment on a story he is being read to do so. Allows a child who has not been able to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance to be given the opportunity to do so. Jokes can be told. Questions can be answered. Opinions can be given. Preferences can be expressed. Choices can be made. Best of all…the child is heard. And the communication partner reacts and responds. The positive reaction reinforces the child’s communication effort. Errorless communication truly allows the child to experience the power of communication through the exploration of language.
Do you work with a little one who uses a communication device on a regular basis? Check out these fun games you can try in the classroom!