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  • Writer's pictureDiane Trasatti

Why Communication Preferences Matter in Stimulating Language Development


When we think of speech therapy, we think of helping children speak.

By supporting communication as a whole using the strengths and preferences of our children,

we stimulate their language development and their abilities as effective communicators.

Speech is one way to communicate.

Some other ways we communicate with others include:

● pointing

● gestures

● facial expressions

● body language

● signs

● texting

● writing

● pictures

● emojis

We all have our own communication preferences. Many people prefer texting to phone calls or vice versa. Some can hear directions one time and remember them, while others may need to see what they need to do in order to complete a task effectively.

If you feel most comfortable communicating via text, then you are likely to communicate

more with others via text. If you feel most successful when you are able to see how something

is done, you may feel relieved when someone offers to show you how to fix something or when

you find a video of how to cook a certain recipe, rather than having to rely on recalling the steps.

In both examples, the comfort and validation you feel leads to an increase in communication, as you express yourself more often or you understand crucial information.

When children are learning how to communicate, certain preferences will emerge based

on their own individual needs when processing information in the world around them. By

nurturing these preferences, we can support language development and relieve the pressure on

our children that they may be feeling if they are having difficulty understanding speech or speaking. Here are some things we can try:

● Gestures, exaggerated voice, facial expressions, and intonation may help a child learn

new basic concepts because this style gives them more information, captures their attention and is engaging.

● Photos, pictures, and signs can help basic concept development as they allow children

to see an image or sign and pair those concepts together.

● Robust communication applications have icons that represent words, which can support

both language learning AND expression for children that thrive by learning visually.

● Consistent validation of a child’s communication attempts by repeating them and/or

building upon them gives them feedback and connection, which continues to foster


Over time, as our child’s preferences are nurtured, language learning occurs and develops,

which makes our child a more effective communicator. As they become more effective

communicators, their interactions with others become more rich and enjoyable, which continues

the cycle of language learning and development. Many times, speaking will increase by fostering

language development in the way a child learns best. If we follow our child’s lead, they show

us how.

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