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How was school today: Communication when your child cannot talk

A child’s success in school is determined, at least in part, by how well the communication flows between home and school. A parent shared a note from her daughter’s teacher that said, “Susie’s project was never turned in…” The parent wrote the teacher back explaining that she never knew about the project assignment in the first place.

The problem here is twofold: One, Susie never got the learning experience of the project; and two, a breakdown of communication occurred somewhere. By the way, Susie is a typically functioning kid.

The oft questioned “How was school today?” is commonly met with “fine”, which doesn’t say much. But even this is better than the inability of a child to answer the question at all. Unfortunately, this is the problem for some parents and their children with speech and communication disabilities.

Parents will dig through their child’s backpack, searching for clues about the day – a scrap of paper, a note from the teacher, a piece of artwork – any hints about how the day went. And all the while, questions are racing through parent’s minds: did she feel a part of the class today? What did he learn in small group today? Did she like her snack today?

Communication between home and school is a vital part of a child’s successful experience in school, regardless of the child’s abilities. But a child who cannot talk, however, makes communication between parent and school much more critical.

When the one person who comes home that knows what happened but cannot answer, “How was school today?” parents need to have a communication system in place.

One of the best examples is from Disability Solutions. Kimberly S. Voss, whose daughter Ashley has expressive aphasia and apraxia, says “learning about Ashley’s day is often puzzling because verbal communication is limited and very difficult for her.”

Check out Disability Solutions for some ideas on creating a Communication System. Though it won’t replace the best method – hearing it from the horse’s mouth – it provides a way to ensure the flow of communication between home and school.

If you have a question or a topic for Dr. Barrett to research and report on, please email Dr. Barrett.

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