On the Same Page: Helping Team Members Recognize and Respond to Unconventional Communication Signals
- Joaquin grabs my wrists when he wants me to play.
- Ariella bangs her fists together when she wants more of something.
- Brayden paces anxiously when he needs to use the restroom.
Do you work learners like these? Beginning communicators often use signals that are unconventional to express their emotional states, wants, needs, and ideas. That can work really well when the people in their lives recognize those signals and respond to the communicator’s intent. But when the signals are subtle or idiosyncratic, team members may miss them or misinterpret them. That’s unfortunate because when we accidentally ignore the beginning communicator’s signal or when we don’t respond in a way that reinforces their use, communication progress stalls out.
One way to help get everyone on board in recognizing those unconventional or subtle forms of communication is to create learner-specific ‘dictionaries’ that help those who are not intimately familiar with the individual learn to look for those signals, read or interpret them correctly, and respond contingently to the communicator’s intent. In today’s post, we share two resources for creating these documents.
Personal Communication Dictionary (PCD) or Personal Gesture Dictionary (PGD)
This handy resource was developed by the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.
PrAACtical AAC Communication Dictionary
Here is our own template for you to use.
Do you use tools like these to help team members better understand the communication signals of beginning communicators? We’d love to hear about it.
This post was written by Carole Zangari