Monday, November 21, 2016

What is Total Communication?


(Guest Blog by Speech Pathologist Laura O'Grady)

Total Communication is the use of a variety of communication methods to ensure that the message is conveyed.  It includes the use of sign language, verbal communication, photos, icons, and gestures to convey a communicative message. Teaching children Total Communication and validating their use of Total Communication allows them to more readily share their feelings and interests.  Research shows that a Total Communication method, when combined with adult verbal models, benefits spoken language development.  Children should be allowed to use whatever means possible to express themselves and as adults we should honor their thoughts and ideas.  The more we validate their feelings, thoughts, and ideas, the more motivated they are to work at less preferred tasks.

One of the reasons I love Sign Me a Story is because it combines the repetitive cause and effect nature of an iPad app with signing, spoken language, and written text. Children are easily able to interact with the app at their own comprehension level.  They can access the signs associated with the story and imitate the signs when spoken language is a challenge.  They can watch the signs as many times as they like and practice them.  The signs are learned within the context of the story, but can easily be generalized into the routines of their day.  This app allows children to learn ways to express themselves in their daily routines that might be easier for them than spoken language.  Sign Me A Story is a great tool for parents and therapists to use with children and it fully supports the use of Total Communication! 

Laura O’Grady
CA License: SP 14483
ASHA: 12029427

CSHA: 20673-1

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