Non-Speaking - Billie and Rose

Taheera Khan

Date: 10/10/23

Non-Speaking Communication - Rose's Experience

Some autistic people may face a delay in their use of spoken language, whilst others may not use speech at all. No two people are the same, and each individual’s journey is unique.

Rose has made amazing progress with her communication since starting at Portfield School. With the help of signs and symbols, she has developed her spoken language and can now convey her thoughts and feelings with confidence.

She brings a delightful presence to the classroom and has made plenty of friends throughout her time at the school.

To begin with, she focused on learning ‘key words’ and understanding what they meant with the help of visual supports. After working closely with teachers and speech and language therapists, she has made leaps and bounds with her speech and can now engage in meaningful conversation.

Although it can take her a little longer to understand what’s being said, visual supports can assist with the processing.

Billie, Rose’s Class Teacher, said: “For Rose, in particular with her processing, she needs a lot of time to be able to answer questions and to understand what’s being said and what is being asked.”

Approaches like the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) enable individuals to make requests, offer answers, and share their needs using picture cards. It has been an effective aid for Rose when used in conjunction with speech to develop her communication skills.

Visual supports promote independence by providing an alternative way to share needs and wants. They can be adapted to suit the requirements of each person, minimising the frustration that comes with not being able to share their thoughts.

It can be helpful to slow down and allow for processing time when asking questions or saying instructions. Too much information might become overwhelming, so it’s essential to consider each individual and what works for them.

Billie emphasises the importance of including each student when making decisions. Just because someone is non-speaking doesn’t mean they can’t hear or understand what’s going on. No matter their differences, everyone deserves to be respected and included.

She continued: “Just because they don’t communicate the way we communicate doesn’t mean they can’t and it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be viewed and valued the same way as the rest of us.”

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