why is communicating so difficult with special needs children and youth?


I spend most of my days helping parents, teachers, and school administrators understand about the need for effective communication when dealing with children/youth experiencing developmental and behavioral challenges. Adults in general find it hard to wrap their minds about the numerous steps that are involved in the communication act. But it is this lack of awareness that creates many if not most of the behavioral meltdowns that occur at home or in the classroom.
Mr. Whipple’s latest blog post is an excellent reference when looking at your communication attempts with children with special needs. I know you will find it as enlightening as I have.

Most of us have played the campfire game where a bunch of kids sit around the fire and pass a message from one to the other. It never fails that the message coming out at the end bears little resemblance to what was started.

The same kind of phenomenon is going on when two people try to communicate. There are many steps in the communication process, each of which might be pictured as an individual cub scout sitting around the fire. Here are ten steps that happen each time we say something to someone else:

1. I have a thought that I want to convey to you.

2. I decide how I am going to convey that message to you with my choice of words.

3. I send the message according to my interpretation of how my words will translate my true intent. (I will discuss tone and body language…

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