My communication is my whole soul self expression

Language is a self expression

Language is a self dialogue

Language cannot be a symbol of one’s intelligence

There is obviously two modes of language – receptive , expressive

Oh no there are two more – body language and para language

Language is a tool that helps us to communicate with others

Other tools are our eyes , hands , facial gestures , grimace , grunts that also aids the communication with others

More tools in line is our pitch , tone , speed , posture while expressing our thoughts. These form part of  what I mentioned before -body language and paralanguage

As said , there is receptive and expressive language .

This is where the vocabulary bank comes into action

This is where exactly narrative descriptions comes into play

We often confuse speech , language and communication

But let’s be clear,  communication is the notebook,  speech is the pencil and language is  sharpener

So when you opt to develop language and speech in your child , you should actually incline yourself to develop the opportunities to communicate

Communication includes expressing likes , dislikes , needs , feelings , emotions, thoughts and ideas rather than labelling A is for apple or brinjal is of purple color

When you begin to develop communication , your most important strategy to achieve success is “ Role modelling”

Now what role modelling should include in building expressive language skills to strengthen communication

Well expressive language should not be limited to requesting only for e.g “I want icecream”

Expressive language should include

1.Commenting , for e,g “ wow , this is fun”

2. Suggesting for e.g , “let’s go , let’s open it

3. Protesting for e.g , “ stop it , go away “
4. Sensory motor experiences , “ its too loud , it feels good , I love jumping “
5. Common practice messages. For e.g more , “I am ready , are you hungry ?, I am busy, I am late “

6. Transition messages , for e.g , “what next , time for dinner , clean up time”

7. Asking for help for e.g , “ I need help , I don’t understand. Can you help? “

8. Feelings for e.g , “I am bored , I am upset , I am scared”

It is good to role model and use these phrases repeatedly and in context  to situations to help child catch and generalise language and have coomunication

It is important to know children with ASD , Fragile X and late language emergent see language differently.

They would grasp language as strings , chunks or sounds rather than a single words that’s why they have tendency of echolalia

Communication development goals should use echolalia as a learning objective rather than another concern to intervene

Once the child can learn and understand and begin comprehending these acquired chunks and strings of words for e,g “this was fun”, “ go away “

You can then step by step go to encourage child to channelize these words into proper syntax and functional language

Lastly I want to shout out on repeat mode

“ Language can  be caught and not taught”

Language , expression and communication should be dealt as a incidental , associative and experiential learning

Next lets dive into “The language that you can talk  with your child.”

Well this is  in continuation to my opinion where  I said

“ Language cannot be taught, language is caught “

So when it comes to language , there many components or types .the spoken words are usually forming the lexical component or commonly as “ Lexicon “. The non lexical  component is formed by the “ para language

Para language is intonation of speech , speed  and pitch

So when you are really tired your para language is low pitched and dull and uninterested

When you are angry the para language is high pitched , fast and very energetic and demanding

When you are anxious the para language is very feeble , not easily noticeable , speed is slow and very shaky

Paralanguage also includes hesitation noises like ah …. Or the pauses that one takes , facial expressions and gestures

Role modelling is a very valuable strategy that is applied in training anyone any skill

If you have heard “ A teacher should be a positive role model for students. “ If you try to decipher this statement then it means that the teacher should actually demonstrate body language , behaviours that are appropriate and expected from students.

Thus if the teacher expects the child to s it and talk then she should display this behaviour to the child. Children do well with role modelling because they learn more lateral and non tangential teaching . If we directly try to teach the child , they may be nervous , confused or wont relate with it at all. They might also result into an escalating situation as they take it like a demand hammered on them

Let’s see how language and communication can be promoted by role modelling.

For e.g if you want child to get familiar with sensory words in their vocabulary and epressive language , a parent can demonstrate a jumping activity and say simultaneously “ lets jump fast “

If you be consistent , then the child can catch the language as well as the sensory movement of jumping

If you want the child to use and start with transition words in their oral language , then you can role model the spoken words or phrases  for e.g lets start dinner whenever you sit with dinner with the child

As long as the child observes the adult doing and using some words , he /she catches and is encouraged to use it functionally

It must be kept in mind children can take on the unexpected and inappropriate words as well as behaviours and emotional reactions from the adults too.

It is not wise to use uncool words or insulting words in front of the child , the same goes for behaviours and emotional responses that are undesirable like hitting , pushing , screaming when angry

Remember children are like mud , they can get moulded in any shape easily

It is your responsibility as an adult to prepare a positive appropriate cast or mould for this mud to take shape

Now let’s talk about a bonus strategy which I think can become your favourite.

This is…………………


Scaffolding is strategy that is used again to teach or start any new skill. This can be used both in language development , and any life skill

Let’s take an e.g

If you want your child to use primary vocabulary as well as secondary vocabulary . Primary vocabulary is “ball “, and secondary vocabulary is adding descriptive word to primary word like “ red ball “

Scafolding can be done in the following steps

First – You both see the picture of the ball and say “ ball “

Second – You both see a picture of red ball and say “ red ball “

Here both times you give the child a full verbal prompt

You can practice this for few days

Third – you show the child the picture of the red ball and point . let the child say alone red ball

Fourth – you open the page where red ball is and don’t give any physical or visual prompt , brcause of habituation and repetition the child would say “ red ball “ with no or minimal prompts

Thus scaffolding is like introducing something to the child with full prompts and then you fade thye prompt with lastly removing the prompt completely and child gets independent

Well I know this too much information for the day . I would suggest read it , process it , practice it , you might fail but do not give up

There are communicative functions which form our speech , language and social communication.

Now which ones you should be aware and mindful to teach and reciprocate with your child . Here is an amazing video attached to understand communication functions a lot better and deeper

Go and check this video now my dear.

All the best in exploring language  development in new way with your little genius

Creative Efforts and Language Stimulator and Pragmatic Therapist – Heena Sahi

Artworks by Dhrov Tikoo and Nikhil Thotam

The creative representation for my blog depicting communication is done by supremely talented CreativeSaathi duo Dhrov Tikoo and Nikhil Thotam

“Two little birdies” and “two beautiful ducks” chirping and conversing their best communicative functions to the world ”


Know more about the Communicative functions that you might have missed!

In the enlightening video created by me “Heena Sahi”, learn and understand about all communicative functions you must work and emphasise on when developing a good two way social communication . I assure you won’t regret after watching this video.

Before that, read my previous articles on communication.

Language is caught not taught

The language that you can talk with your child

So which communicative functions you start with ?

Creative Efforts – Heena Sahi

BloggerSaathi CreativeSaathi

Non-verbal¸communication and use of Declarative Language

I want to ask you all, Do we need to be verbal to communicate? I don’t think so, then why stress so much for it. Of course, it’s the most common way of communicating, most of the junta communicates in this mode, but our kids are different so their way of expressing CAN be different. 

Now, let’s cut the chase. 

I remember seeing “PUSHPAK” movie growing up. I think, most of us might have seen the movie; we have seen, enjoyed “Tom & Jerry”, “Charlie Chaplin”. All of these didn’t have dialogues. Most of the communication was non-verbal. Non-verbal is the foundation of communication, that’s the first stage, a child communicates to his/her parents. The child senses the parent’s expressions and gets an idea of his surroundings. 

Next, for any communication to be successful, it has to be in partnership. Most of the time, we talk to our kids in Q&A mode i.e the Imperative language. “What is this”, “Tell me that”, “Say : Bye”. We don’t leave any room for the child to think. But, an authentic or real conversation is mostly experience sharing and using lot of declarative language, else it’s sermon-like or answering a paper filled with Qs. 

Now, let’s get to practice :

Non-verbal communication includes 

  • usage of lot of facial expressions, eye gaze,
  • intonations,
  • prosody
  • lot of pause (can’t emphasise enough the value of it)

Declarative Language, simply put, is saying out loud, what you are thinking or experience-sharing. “Yumm, I love these soft Idlis”, with lot of eye-wideing and facial expressions showing it. “oh no, I wanted to drink Chai, but we are out of sugar”. Problem solve it by saying everything out loud. Let your child see and notice how we do problem solving in the real-world. 

We practice it with –

  • Use lot of non-verbal ways of communications,
  • communicate to enhance “thinking”
  • use experience-sharing
  • Model, not instruct

Eg :

“Look, Daadi is here. Hello Daadi.”, now look at your child as if to expect him to say. Transfer the responsibility to the child. Pause, If child responds, job well done, or if the child even looks at you or Daadi, communication has happened, acknowledge it. 

By not giving the exact words for child to say, you are giving a possibility for your child to think. 

“Look Beta, Daadi is leaving” , now look at your child, transfer the responsibility. If the child says “Bye” nothing like it, else we simplify it more, give them clues to facilitate thinking. you can say, “I wonder what we say when someone is leaving”, pause, look at your child, no response, it’s alright, we model “aah, when someone leaves we can say “Bye-bye”, “Bye Daadi, see you soon”. and you can invite the child to say Bye simply by looking at him, his response can be verbal or non-verbal (looking at you or Daadi). That’s the foundation you have built. We might have to repeat the same exercise with different set of people few times, but trust me, once the child gets it, we don’t have to instruct anymore. Later on, he will get the other cues too quickly. 

So, let’s focus on Declaratives and non verbal communication to get to verbal. Let’s STOP hounding and be partners !!! Let’s redirect ourselves towards building Dynamic thinkers who can problem solve themselves

Artwork by Lavanya Iyer

Creative representation for this blog has been done by our talented CreativeSaathi junior Lavanya Iyer. Non verbal conversation/ communication is depicted through the bond and connection between Radha and lord Krishna.


Introducing Feelings and Emotions Level 1 Play time with Manju K Iyer

A video tutorial by Manju K Iyer on how to teach the feelings and emotions to our kids in a fun and play method.

Author Manju K Iyer

Manju K Iyer is a Psychologist, Counselor,  Parent coach, Play Therapist, Homeschooler and Founder of PlayTime ( A coaching program for parents of children with special needs).

BloggerSaathi CreativeSaathi

Changing our Mindset from Speech to Abhinaya

The 100-Day Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) Lab for Parents: Days 1-7

Artwork by Morpheus Nag

Who do you think of when you hear the word abhinaya? The picture by Morpheus shows a popular actress, Sridevi. We think of talented actors and actresses who engage audiences with enthralling performances.

This blog post is not about such actors and actresses. It is not about performances. It is about abhinaya as a tool for expression for everyone. Abhinaya as a tool for expression for parents. Abhinaya as a tool for communication for neurodivergent children.

This week is an exciting one! We launched the TAHD Lab for parents on December 5, 2022. TAHD offers many insights into effective educational practice for all children. One of the most important insights from TAHD for parents of neurodivergent children is captured in the notion of abhinaya in Indian natya. Dr. Ambika Kameshwar chose abhinaya as the concept of the first week of the TAHD 100-Day Lab. I think it an excellent choice for our community!

Concept of the Week: Abhinaya

Parents often worry about speech and language development. By changing our mindset to abhinaya rather than speech, we recognize that humans communicate in many ways. Speech is only one of many ways to communicate. Further, parents worry about speech means that they often overlook the struggles in other areas. In particular, they miss the struggles in nonverbal communication and emotional expression. These foundations of communication are developed long before speech! Abhinaya in Indian natya is a systematic framework of expression using varied modes of expression. Thus, abhinaya is a useful way of thinking about learning and development of children.

December 08, 2022

Abhinaya at the Airport!

I am very happy today! As we were waiting at entrance, a man came from behind and said “I have an 8.45 flight. Can I go?”

Ananth looked at him said “Go ahead” Usually he does not process unexpected things being said to him in crowded places. But he is very alert today. Indian airports are a good test of TAHD! He had the right posture, a pleasant face rather than stressed, and made a perfect entry through security while I went through the ladies line! I am very glad his Bharatanatyam lessons are shifted to TAHD mode. Everything is working together very well now!

An airport scenario is a good example to think about the various components of abhinaya. Vacika(speech) did not have to be used extensively. Angika (tracking people, knowing when to stop and when to go, handling security check) is much more significant. Satvika (expression) important too.

I think that the regular practice of open your eyes and smile and many reminders to smile throughout the dance class is already having some effect. Ananth didn’t a have flat or stressed affect but a more alert and with it look today! Finally, aharya or props. A simple example – handing boarding card to security person, scanning boarding card at entry.

Ananth’s Presentation

Watch Ananth’s presentation of The White Peacock presented at a SpecialSaathi webinar. We retaped this video as the video was blurry in the webinar.

Ananth’s presentation at the SpecialSaathi webinar on December 2, 2022 illustrates the four components of abhinaya:

  • Angika abhinaya: Body movements (e.g., bharatanatyam mudra and hand movements) are used throughout the presentation.
  • Vacika abhinaya: Story narration is the speech part of the abhinaya.
  • Aharya abhinaya: Thanks to Manu Sekar’s mother (Manu is the Founder of HashHackCode) for stitching the attire for Ananth’s birthday. Originally, Ananth wanted a maroon kurta. Then, he decided to choose colors that would work with the peacock story!
  • Satvik abhinaya: Facial expressions and hand gestures were used to communicate how the peacocks and humans felt throughout the presentation!

Read about the four modes of abhinaya in Indian natya on page 7 of the TAHD book:

Dr. Ambika Kameshwar. 2006 Theater Arts for Holistic Development. Ramana Sunritya Aaalaya Trust.

Thank you Shri Ujwal Jagadeesh for your guidance and support. Thanks to Ms. Usha Sankaran for coaching him. Thanks to Dr. Ambika Kameshwar and Dr. Vaishnavi Poorna for ensuring that Ananth has the right mix of TAHD experiences at every stage. Thank you Shilpi Mayank Awasthi for a memorable 25th birthday celebration for Ananth. Some of our family members attended and I have also sent the video to a few family members.

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