Building communication with the help of Shape drawing

A video blog by Pinki Kumar on building communication with the help of shape drawing.

Author Pinki Kumar

Pinki is a special educator, play therapist and a mother of a neurodivergent kid. She has a YouTube channel Play and learn to teach different methods and strategies. These videos are a great resource for the parents to help their child learn various skills.



Registered Special Educator (A64010)


All forms of communication, apart from Speech, that can enable individuals to express their thoughts, feelings and needs, is referred to as Augmentative and Alternative Communication. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), there are several types of AAC (

• Gestures and Facial expressions
• Writing
• Drawing
• Spelling words by pointing to letters, and
• Pointing to photos, pictures, or written words

HIGH-TECH options such as
• Using an app on a device to communicate
• Using a computer with a “voice”, sometimes referred to as a speech generating device.”

The Avaz app ( is a picture and text based AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) application that enables an individual with communication difficulties, to express their needs, ideas, opinions and thoughts. As an AAC, the Avaz app provides a tool to the individual to be an active participant in the learning process.

In a country like India, where there are multiple languages, an advantage of using the Avaz app is that the words on the app can be recorded in multiple languages…Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi and Gujarati, apart from English.
There are several features within the app that make it accessible for individuals with diverse communication needs.

As mentioned in the website, new modifications have made “it easier for switch and eye gaze users to communicate using the app…like the morphological forms of words shown in Avaz”. Besides these major modifications, one can also make changes to the Zoom button and the High Contrast button, to help an individual’s visual needs. Care has also been taken to ensure that individuals with fine motor issues, who are unable to point and tap the screen accurately, can do so by adjusting the settings on the device.

Avaz has several categories of Core Words and Phrases, both at the beginner level and advanced level (with grammar etc). And because it is both a Picture based as well as a Text based app, one can make folders on various topics, starting from basic identification of oneself, one’s family members, of objects, places to visit, favourite food, emotions, hobbies, books, favourite music etc using both text as well as photos that can be uploaded from the gallery on the device/ symbols already available on the app /the internet (if the device is logged on to it). In addition to the photos, one can also record the voice of the given text, in one’s preferred language. This makes it easier for the individual, especially a child in India for example who might not be familiar with an accented pre-recorded voice.

Another feature that is extremely helpful is being able to create a low-tech communication board or an Avaz book, based on a folder, made on the app. A print out of the Avaz book can be taken, and then used in multiple settings. For example, if one is travelling somewhere and is not able to have access to the device, one can take a print out of the Avaz book for further communication with the individual.

Modelling is a strategy to be adopted to teach basic concepts. While Modelling, the educator/caregiver can highlight the chosen word on the Avaz app (from its section of Core words), using it in a variety of sentences and situations. Please note, for each activity that is introduced, the learner must have pre-requisite knowledge regarding it.

1) TEACHING THE COLOUR RED: For example, if the educator wants to teach the colour Red to the individual, the educator can perhaps do an activity with the individual, where he/she can highlight the word Red. For example, a Craft Activity that comprises of Colouring a sheet of paper and pasting, where she can model the word “Red” on the app for the child while saying the following:

a) Take the RED colour pencil.
b) Colour the circles RED.
c) Paste the RED circles on the paper.

2) TEACHING the words OPEN AND CLOSE in a Vocational Activity (opening and closing the lid of a biscuit tin)
a) OPEN the cupboard and take out the biscuit tin.
b) OPEN the lid of the biscuit tin and take out the biscuits.
c) CLOSE the lid.
d) OPEN the cupboard and put back the biscuit tin.

a) It was a HOT day.
b) The crow WANTED TO DRINK water.
c) It SAW a pot with water below.
d) It PICKED stones and PUT in the pot and the water came UP.
a) When I MEET someone, I will say HELLO!
b) When the ASK me, “HOW ARE YOU?”
c) I will ANSWER, “I AM FINE”
d) I will then ASK them, “HOW ARE YOU?”

Since Avaz is a text and picture-based app, one can summarize the plot of an entire story, in images taken from the device’s photo gallery/symbols pre-loaded on the app/ from the internet, and add the text for each image recorded in our own voice. This can be used not only for a story, but also any lesson that one wants to teach. For example, Internal and External Organs, Landscapes, Plants…just about anything that one wants to teach, that can be augmented with Visuals for the learner.



The app need not be only used for literacy and communication, in the conventional sense, but it can also be used for fun games, like Name, Place, Animal, Thing. Since Kabir is not very familiar with Names and Places, we often play with the categories, Animal and Things. It is a great activity, for turn taking as well as learning new names of animals.


In this example, Kabir and I played the game for every alternate letter, A, C, E, G etc.
One can customize the game, including a category that the child has a special interest in. For example, names of vehicles, brand names, names of books, names of songs, names of flowers/trees etc., anything that the child likes and shows an interest in.
The process of Learning does not have to be drab and boring. As educators and caregivers, we must infuse the 3 E’s –energy, enthusiasm and excitement. Only then will the child find the motivation to engage with us and be open to try new ways of learning.
Avaz Inc. provides several training programs for parents, educators and professionals. A brief description of each:
1) Avaz Certified Educator: it is an online certification course specially designed for Special Educators, targeted for successful AAC implementation in schools and classrooms . Enrolment for this course is currently underway. It is for Special Educators, Shadow Teachers, ABA therapists and non-Speech Language Pathologists. All details are provided on the website . The course will begin on May 8th, 2023.
2) Avaz Certified AAC Professional: An online certification course covering everything that you need to know for successful AAC implementation. It is for Speech Language Pathologists, Speech Therapists and Audiologists (
3) Avaz Aarambh: It is for parents who have just started using Avaz or want to re-start their child’s communication journey (

Avaz Inc also provides the services of Teletherapy (

**The author is an Avaz Certified Educator (Jan 2023)

Author Triveni Goswami Vernal

Triveni Goswami Vernal is an Autism advocate, registered Special Educator (CRR A64010) and an Independent Researcher. Her areas of interest include Autism, Disability Rights, Gender, Art and Northeast studies. She is a mum to an 11 year old on the Autism Spectrum.

Creative representation for this blog is done by our extremely talented CreativeSaathi associate Kabir Vernal

“Evening Sky”
An abstract art piece depicting an evening sky over a meadow


The ability to speak is a blessing which is taken for granted many a time. Meaningful speech is a learned behaviour which involves information processing and generating a motor response. Majority of the children on the spectrum have processing difficulties and co occurring motor difficulties like apraxia/dyspraxia, low tone etc. Their motor system takes time to develop and does not always follow the timelines / milestones of typically developing children. This impacts the ability to produce speech because speech is a pure motor act involving the synergistic functioning of a number of muscles.

But as discussed in some previous blogs on Communication by @prashanthivankamamidi Read it here Speech is not the only means to communicate and non speaking doesn’t mean non thinking and non speaking doesn’t also necessarily have to be non communicative .

On similar grounds, speech may also not always be communicative for people on the spectrum. Using an AAC system does not mean we are giving up on speech. In children with sensory processing disorder and motor speech difficulties like dyspraxia and dysrathria, appropriate sensory integration strategies, whole body and motor speech work need to be incorporated into the child’s program to see gains in speech. At the same time since we want the child’s language to grow along with the child, we need to explore alternative methods to stimulate language and foster communication. As parents, I believe it is our duty to make the process of communication easy for our children because communication is the essence of human relationship. Language adds meaning and expression to human interactions. So AAC is an attempt to support a developing motor system to communicate and develop language .

Alternative and Augmentative Communication includes both low tech and high tech forms. Low tech includes gestures, writing, sign language, communication boards ,pictures, PECS etc where as high tech includes a speech generation device which uses softwares like Avaz, Proloqu2Go, Tobii Dynavox, Saltillo, LAMP words for life and many more. I have been using Avaz as well as communication boards with my son. So lets jump into the strategies.
For any AAC system to be successfully implemented , we need to consider many variables. Each of the headings below is a topic in itself and this is just an overview of the strategies which I found useful.

• To begin with , PRESUME COMPETENCE. Every child can communicate if we teach them the way to do so and provide them with ample opportunities for the same. First of all, we need to get rid of limiting beliefs. When we think of only limitations like the child has difficulty in visual discrimination, scanning, fine motor issues etc as an excuse not to use AAC , we are giving up even before we begin.There is a way to work around these issues and trained professionals can guide you regarding the same. These days there are eye gaze systems available which can be successfully used for communication even by children who have significant motor difficulties.

SETTING UP THE SYSTEM: This is an essential part and one of the first steps in an AAC intervention where in we decide and make a list of all the possible words which we use on a daily basis, the words which are important to the child. This is mostly child and family centric.

For eg: A child may love ‘ Dosa’ or a family might visit a particular relative every weekend and so on. So there must be symbols in the system to cater to this kind of conversation. That is why AAC systems need to be customised keeping the user in mind. Once the list is decided these are carefully laid out in a particular order and at various levels so that navigation is easy for the child. At this stage we decide on the grid size (number of pictures per screen), size of the symbols, levels of folders etc depending on the child. An AAC trained professional can guide in this processs taking into account, the individual child’s visual and motor abilities. Nevertheless it is always a good idea to have more symbols than a restrictive set of symbols which are just need based because unless we have those symbols we will not model those. It is essential to use a robust system with access to a rich vocabulary. I know this may sound counterintuitive, because we are told that children on the spectrum have significant processing difficulties and hence should be exposed to a limited number of words initially. But most of the time what happens is that when we have less number of words on our system we restrict the language that we are modelling to just those many words that we have on our systems. So we will get stuck at need based communication simply because we are not exposing our children to richer language. So more words being modelled results in richer receptive language. This doesn’t mean that we are going to model all these words in a day or two. It is done gradually and systematically. But we should have it in our AAC system so that when the appropriate situation arises we can model the same. This is one of the biggest advantages of hi tech systems because any word with its picture symbol, can be added at the click of a button. Also the auditory feed back that a hitech system provides is beneficial to the user . So presume competence and add more vocabulary to your child’s life in naturalistic settings. It is also important to have a dedicated device for communication. For entertainment, you tube and cartoons a different device should be used .

THE GOLDEN RULE : MODEL MODEL MODEL– There is no other way in which language can be developed. Essentially this is the way natural language is acquired by all children. Parents of typically developing children model vocabulary multiple times throughout the day unknowingly and children pick up those words. AAC is a new language- So we have to model its use so that children develop rich language. Aided Language stimulation/ Input is the more technical term used for MODELLING WITHOUT EXPECTATION.So essentially what we do is we speak to the child using the device and our voice. For example : When I say to my child “ Amma feels thirsty “ , I simultaneously model the key words like feel and thirsty on the device. I do not expect the child to repeat after me or respond using the device. Attention towards the AAC system is a pre requisite for this step and you can build on it. It might sound very impossible or undoable when we start . But with practice we become more proficient in it and believe me it works.It is the process by which we are consistently showing the child where a particular symbol is there on the AAC system ,repeatedly ,so that slowly he will learn to navigate and find the word. In this regard it is very important not to keep on shifting symbols every now and then because it hinders the development of a consistent motor plan. Also do not use very long sentences and do not model every word that you say. Model the key words, model just one word above the child’s present level. If the child can say ‘water’ , we will model ‘want water’. Here is a useful article on aided language stimulation:

MODEL MORE, PROMPT LESS- The process of prompting should only begin after a word has been modelled a significant number of times. The more a child sees a word being modelled, the more the chances that the child might use that word on his own. Be aware of the PROMPT HIERARCHY– start from the least intrusive prompt and move up to more intrusive ones. Physical prompts must be used only as the last option since they are very difficult to fade off. Refer to this article to learn more about prompting and the prompt hierarchy.

MODEL ACROSS SITUATIONS , USE WITH MULTIPLE COMMUNICATION PARTNERS– Success and communication autonomy happens when the AAC is used in multiple situations and by every one around the child. This builds confidence in the child regarding this new mode of communication. This means that the family has a large role to play. A therapist spends very little time with the child whereas family members get multiple communication opportunities which should be utilised in modelling language. To take all the family members into confidence regarding AAC use is not an easy task ! It will always be a work in progress. But start the process and it will slowly evolve.

• Be aware of the POWER OF THE PAUSE- An expectant pause gives opportunity and time for the individual to process the information and come up with a response. The minimum we can give is 10 seconds upto about 45 seconds (RDI recommended wait time) before you repeat the question or prompt. Literally count in your head. Slowly you will understand how much time your child is taking to process and will be surprised too when you realise that you are the one who was impatient. I have suffered this guilt!

BE AWARE OF THE COMMUNICATIVE FUNCTIONS: This is essential ,so that we can model each of these functions during our every day interactions. Looking at the image below (Ref theaac, one will realise that communication is not just need based, there are myriad other functions of human communication! These communicative functions can be effectively modelled during routines and daily life interactions, if we are mindful. Again, will be difficult in the beginning but gets better with practice.

• Use COMMUNICATION TEMPTATIONS: Use everyday opportunities to engineer situations where the child will have to communicate. Sabotage certain situations so as to bring in initiation . For eg: If colouring is your child’s favourite activity, you can give your child paper. Wait for the child to look for crayons and use this opportunity to model ‘WANT CRAYONS’. This helps to build requesting. This resource helps with communication temptation:

TEST VERY LESS -Reduce the number of Questions that you ask. Continuous testing results in lot of performance demands and adds on to anxiety and stress. This might lead to
communication breakdowns and device abandonment. So avoid phrases like “show me, tell me, what is” etc which may become communication stoppers. Remember an AAC is a communication device, not a testing or academic work device.

• Always REINFORCE– Any attempt at communication , be it verbal, non verbal or using an AAC must be reinforced which will motivate the child to communicate more.

• Understand the difference between CORE AND FRINGE VOCABULARY – Although we always start teaching apple, ball and cat, these words may not be very functional for the child except in certain specific scenarios. On the other hand core vocabulary is used in a majority of our daily life situations in a variety of situations. Eg: Consider the word ‘go’. We can use it in a number of situations like ‘ go to park, go in auto, lets go, go to toilet, go with daddy, ready set go, bubbles go up’ etc. Similarly consider the words ‘help’ , ‘like’, ‘don’t’ etc which can be used in a variety of situations. These are core words.Teaching these core words will help in language generalisation.

TARGETED PRACTICE AND SHARED READING– It is a good idea to select one or two core words for a specific period like a week or 10 days to model during shared reading. Here is a great resource providing simple stories which targets specific core words which keep repeating in the story.

In the beginning if interest in stories is less, we can make social stories with the child as the person of interest. This can be facilitated by taking photographs and putting into a power point and highlighting the core words. Use simple sentences and highlight the key words. For example we can write a story about our visit to the park. We can highlight words like go, play, fun, climb, jump etc. We model the highlighted words on the AAC when we read the story. This kind of story telling will also aid in recall of events and in creating memories. It will feel cumbersome in the beginning ,to read and model at the same time, but with practice we get better at it. This kind of targeted practice is also a great way to introduce and teach certain useful words that may not come into everyday language on a regular basis. For eg : lets consider the word ‘pain’. There will be limited opportunities to model. So if we have a story around it, we can model the word ‘pain’ , teach to localise the pain, ask for help when in pain etc. One can use CREATIVE WAYS to make the story very interesting by adding not just pictures , but GIFs as well. This is especially true for action words and emotions were a static picture may not be able to convey the true essence of the word. Consider the two pictures below . The dynamicity of GIFs will help the user relate to the word more.


• Last but very important point: Know your child’s way of language processing- Analytical Language Processing (ALP) versus Gestalt Language Processing (GLP). I would urge the readers to refer to Ms Triveni’s blog on Gestalt Language Processing

This is essential because the way you are going to model language is going to be different. ALPs will start with single words, then two words phrases and gradually increase their language complexity. So modelling will also follow the same path. GLPs on the other hand will require pre stored phrases and sentences to begin with. Professional help will be useful to decide on this. This resource helps in understanding Gestalt language processing

Other useful resources:

AAC is a whole new language. So as caregivers we need to learn and use it in the right way so that communication becomes a success.
Disclaimer: I am not an AAC expert. These are the strategies I have learnt through personal experience and through reading. I actively pursue these strategies and find them very helpful. My sincere thanks to team Avaz for guiding me in my AAC journey.

Author Dr. Indu Manicketh

Dr Indu Manicketh did her MBBS from Madurai Medical College and MD in Pathology from St John’s Medical college Bangalore. She runs a histopathology laboratory at Jeeva Janaki hospital Madurai and she is associated with Apollo Hospital Madurai as a consultant . Her areas of interest in medicine include transfusion medicine, lymphoproliferative disorders and Quality management systems. The cause of autism and neurodiversity is very close to her heart and she actively pursues these interests. She is trained in Oral Placement Therapy, Level 1 , Introduction to PROMPT by the PROPMT Institute, Sensory motor approach to Apraxia by Renee Roy Hill, Solving the puzzle of autism by Robyn Merkel- Walsh. She believes in continuous learning and improvement. She has a seven year old son. A trained carnatic vocalist, she loves to sing, read and research during her free time.

Creative representation for this blog is done by our extremely talented CreativeSaathi associate Vinayak Raj


Every Kid deserves a voice

10 best home-based Strategies for Speech, language and Communication development in early years of your child- part 1

Children with special needs often require additional support and attention to develop their speech and language skills. As a parent or caregiver, you play a crucial role in facilitating your child’s overall communication development. Communication development is a crucial aspect of a child’s overall development, and it can be especially challenging for children with special needs. As a parent or caregiver, there are several practical strategies you can use to support your child’s communication development at home. In this blog, I’ll explore practical strategies to build speech, language and communication development skills in your child at home.

Let’s discuss and explore these strategies in detail.

1. Create a communication-rich environment
A communication-rich environment provides your child with multiple opportunities to practice communication skills. Encourage communication in all forms as communication is not just about speaking and verbal language. So, encourage your child to communicate in all forms, including gestures, facial expressions, sign language, and other nonverbal cues at home and around. By recognizing and responding to these forms of communication, you can help your child feel more comfortable expressing themselves and build their confidence in communicating. You can also create such an environment at home for your child by using simple language when communicating with your child, playing games that require turn-taking, and reading books together. Additionally, you can label all the objects around the house and describe what you’re doing as you go about your day. Be your child’s voice to motivate them to wish to speak. Hence, Providing a communication-rich environment is one way that provides your child with many opportunities to practice their communication skills. Let’s explore each strategy one by one:

2. Use visuals and labels to support communication
As we discussed in our first point to create a communication-rich environment for our child at home. So, for this we require help of visuals. Visuals are a powerful tool to support communication development in children with special needs. Parents can use pictures, photographs, Flash- cards, drawings, Noun-book, verb- book, numerous identification books(available online and in market), visual cards, simple text written in a piece of paper, to help your child understand and express their needs and wants. Also to  help them predict what’s required by them. Visuals can also be used to help your child learn new vocabulary, helps in building understanding, environment awareness and concepts. So, Visual aids can be a powerful tool to support communication.

3. Use gestures and facial expressions
Gestures and facial expressions are an essential part of communication. They can help your child understand what you’re saying and also helps in expressing their own thoughts and feelings. Encourage your child to use gestures and facial expressions to communicate, and respond to their nonverbal cues. Take help from simple YouTube videos of feelings and emotions or books to teach them in a fun way. Do role modelling and use a lot of facial expressions and hand gestures , actions while talking to them.

4. Simplify your language
This is one of the most important steps in communication which is to use only one language to communicate with your child. Simplification of language has many important and significant sub points which parents should not miss by any chance- 

A.)Use of only one language – During initial communication and speech development process, when your child is beginning to understand the language, vocabulary, words and trying to make sense of it then ask everyone in your family, friends, therapists to stick to that language while communicating with your child. Avoid mixing two languages until very necessary.
B.) Initially use only small sentences or phrases.Moreover, when communicating with your special needs child, it’s important to use simple language that they can understand.
C.) Avoid using complex sentences, and parents can remove articles, verbs, adjectives  when beginning with the initial teaching of language to your little one.
Example 1.- Ram eating
rather than Ram is eating his food.
Example 2- Ram going school
Rather than Ram is going to his school

D.)Use short, simple sentences and repeat the key words and phrases to make them learn and place in their memory to help reinforce understanding.

5. Avoid abstract concepts that may be confusing:
For Example, a.)Tomorrow is Mumma’s birthday. b.)Rita Aunty will come on the weekend and will bring presents. c.)We will enjoy the birthday party. d.)Daddy will return next month from his tour, e.) I promise, I will give you chocolate..etc

These are some abstract sentences for the beginners. Why because Initially concepts like today, tomorrow, yesterday, next month;  meaning of birthday, party, presents, enjoying, happy, promise etc are not known and understood to the child where they cannot make sense of any of the above sentences. So, to teach such concepts make sure individual meaning of all the above mentioned words (today, tomorrow yesterday,  meaning of birthday,  party, presents, happy, etc) have been taught to the child in a specific and in generalized forms with various examples and situations used to perfect them.

6. Play games that promote communication
Playing games that promote communication can be a fun, concrete and effective way to build speech and language skills. Some examples of games that promote communication include:

i.)A Simple Treasure hunt- Most of our kids have strong fascination with alphabets and numbers. So collect all the alphabets or numbers (from educational toys that you have at home). Now hide them at all the different labeled places at your home. For example-TV,  fridge, dining table, chair, sofa, bookshelf, door,  kitchen, toyshelf, bicycle etc. Now, initially if the child doesn’t seems to cooperate then both the parents can play and do the role Modelling or can teach the child by physical prompting and if child seems to be interested then you are good to go.

Start the game with some fun lines- “All the alphabets are missing. Ram lets find out the missing alphabets”. And show the child what exactly needs to be done a couple of times. And then you’re good to go.

So, here you have started with simple yet fun instructions to get the child’s attention, and then can further add – –>”Alphabet ‘A’ is hiding on TV”. Since you have labeled TV and must have been teaching your kid by pointing etc that this thing is “TV”, so the child will automatically try to find the missing alphabet around the TV. How, this helps , as our kids keep on recording and registering whatever we are saying so these sentences which have things of their interests like alphabets, objects in the house, they will pay attention to your sentence and will memorise in no time and would repeat that while playing and otherwise. Then, further you need to help them in building up sentences from here.

ii.)Simon says: Next fun game is Simon says.  This game also involves following instructions, which can help your child practice listening skills and following directions.
iii.)I spy you: This game helps your child learn new vocabulary and practice descriptive language.
iv.)Dumb Charades: This game involves acting out words or phrases without speaking, which can help your child develop nonverbal communication skills and better  understanding.

V.) Pretend Play or imaginary play- Pretend play or imaginary play is a great way to build communication and language skills in children with special needs.

Here are some ways in which it can help:

Builds Vocabulary: Pretend play involves a lot of talking, which can help children with special needs to expand their vocabulary and learn new words. For example, if a child is playing with a toy kitchen, they might learn the names of different fruits, vegetables, and kitchen utensils, what to do with them etc. Same goes with the Doctor’s set, which is one of the best way to engage your child in pretend play. Teacher- student, shopkeeper- customer, restaurant game etc are different fun, relatable and easy pretend play games. Parents can use household items if they cannot purchase the toys. Comb, empty shampoo bottle, cream, towel, first aid items, remote, etc , there are plenty of household items which are a great learning material for pretend play.

Improves Language Structure: Pretend play also allows children to practice using language in different structures and forms. For example, a child might practice using sentences with different tenses or practice asking and answering questions.

Enhances Social Interaction: Pretend play also provides opportunities for social interaction, which can help children with special needs to practice their communication skills in a safe and supportive environment. For example, a child might practice taking turns, making requests, or expressing feelings during pretend play of above given examples- in doctor’s clinic, in the restaurant, in shopping market, in the class.

Encourages Creativity: Pretend play also encourages creativity and imagination, which can help children with special needs to express themselves in new and different ways. For example, a child might create a new story or character during pretend play, which can help them to develop their creativity and imagination. Or can include familiar characters from their favorite cartoon programs during their pretend play.

So, pretend play or imaginary play can be a powerful tool for building communication and language skills in children with special needs. By providing opportunities for vocabulary building, language structure practice, social interaction, and creativity, it can help these children to develop important communication and language skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.

7. Read aloud together
Reading together is an excellent way to build speech and language skills in your special needs child. Fix a time preferably during night time before going to sleep. Mark this in your child’s schedule to maintain consistency. Choose books that are appropriate for their age and reading level, and encourage them to ask questions and make comments about the story. You can also use books to teach new vocabulary and concepts. Begin with small board books, picture books, then gradually move to higher level books.

While reading for your child make sure to leave some words for your child to finish it. It’s a great way to let them speak as most of our kids have a habit of finishing everything and not leaving it undone. So, when you leave the sentence midway then they would certainly try to speak out the remaining words from the unfinished sentence.

[Please note- the word that you have left for your child to read should be familiar or kind of favourite or relatable to your child. This is a sureshot way of getting their attention, and their willingness to read it and finish the unfinished sentence. ]

Make sure to be as funny and interesting during this process of reading. Try to use the sentences read in your child’s favorite book at a given situation to draw a reference for your child as how to use language and sentences and at what place. Being taken from his favorite book, child can relate very easily and can draw reference. This trick applies to your child’s favorite cartoon or TV program, where you can use their favorite dialogues, lines from it and can use it whenever required to draw a reference and for its proper usage.

8. Practice active listening
Active listening is an essential skill in communication, and it involves giving your full attention to the person speaking and responding appropriately. Practice active listening with your child by making eye contact, nodding or using other nonverbal cues, and repeating back what they’ve said to ensure understanding. Repeating back what they have said with the tone reflecting how important and interesting thing that your child has told you is a way to encourage them to say it again. This way they can find it interesting to interact with you again and again.

9. Be your child’s voice-
This is a little tricky but such an effective method to develop communication and speech in your child. It shows 100 percent results gradually but effectively developing speech and communication in your child.

Being your child’s voice means,when you and your child both are spending some quality time together and doing basically nothing- and you both are looking at the things around you, then the parent may start speaking for your child as if your child is speaking. Let me explain with a few examples-

Example- 1: while going in the car for a drive- this is a perfect setup for you to be your child’s voice. As soon as you enter and sit inside the car with your child, start with – “Ram and mumma are going on a drive”, “Ram is going by Daddy’s car” , ” Daddy’s car is white” , “I can see a cow” , ” cow is white”, that’s a police station”, “and a police car”, “that’s an autorickshaw”, ” that’s a temple” ” we do jai jai in the temple”, “We have reached shopping mall”, ” this is is the parking”, “it’s so dark in the parking”, etc .

[Please note– we don’t have to ask our child like – what is this Ram? What is that Ram? Where are we going Ram? This is an entirely wrong way to teach our child who doesn’t even like to be questioned in the first place, and when they haven’t started uttering their initial few words or speaking anything , they wouldn’t answer any of your questions, rather if they’re willing to speak they would choose not to.]

We have to teach our child all the answers that we would like them to give further when we ask them any question. It’s because our children have delay in understanding, in cognitive development, speech and language, understanding of our environment etc, unlike the other children of theirs age who can pick these things easily.

Example 2- In the shopping mall – ” this is an escalator” , “We are going up” that’s the toy shop” , ” I love toys”, “it’s a clothes shop”, “let’s shop”, ” Let’s wait”, “Let’s eat” etc.

Example 3- while evening walk or taking your little one on his tricycle- ” wow, friends are playing in the park “, ” this is a grocery shop”, “this a swimming pool” etc

Example 4 – Sitting in the park- “this is grass” ” it’s green”, “it’s so soft”, “that’s the blue sky” etc

Example 5- Sitting in the balcony- ” thats the black car going on the road”, “4 birds are flying in the sky”, “We are sitting in the balcony”, it’s a lovely weather outside” etc

Now, in these easy to do situations we need to consistently keep on doing and saying these things. Example 3,4 ad 5 can be done daily without fail, Example 1 and 2 can be done weekly. So, here in these situations the child is in little relaxed mental state, in a green zone, and has ability to listen to you and understand. Our children have innate quality of recording and registering whatever we are saying to them, so with this method whatever we want them to say and talk that we could begin ourselves saying in those situations and in no time, be it with in a week to an year your child will start speaking exact those lines that you have said during these situations. And to get success in this step we need to achieve point 1 to 8 beforehand so that your child has a grasp on one language and has a good vocabulary, knows some nouns and verbs then only this will work in an effective manner.

10. Use technology to support communication
There are many technological tools available that can support communication development in children with special needs. For example, speech-generating devices can help children who have difficulty speaking communicate their thoughts and needs. Additionally, there are many apps like avaz and games available that can help your child practice communication skills. Read bloggersaathi Prashanthi Vankamamidi’s @prashanthivankamamidi blogs on communication and special development to find out how to use technology to support communication-

So, concluding the first part of my today’s blog here. Building speech and language development skills in your special needs child at home requires patience, consistency, and creativity. By creating a communication-rich environment, using visuals and gestures, simplifying your language, playing games, reading together, being their voice and using technology, you can support your child’s communication development and help them reach their full potential. Remember to celebrate small successes and be very consistent in your efforts, and your child will gradually make progress over time.

Hope you will find this blog useful, so do not forget to comment and share this with fellow parents. Thank you !!

Author Shilpi Mayank Awasthi


Creative representation for this blog is done by our extremely talented CreativeSaathi associate Morpheus Nag


Communication beyond Speech – part 1

“Motivate to communicate,
Pay attention on potential growth, speech is highly recreational”

-Joseph kurian

This blog is unique for a reason- Authors of TALKING FINGERS have contributed their thoughts to the most discussed topic of Communication Vs Speech.

For unversed, Talking Fingers is a book co-authored by sixteen non-speaking autistics from across India. They have proved that “PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN SWORD”, if given a proper mode of communication. One can get a small glimpse of their thoughts in the blog. Hope you all like it!!!

As part of my volunteering with Nayi Disha, I get to interact with lot of young parents. What I find common in every query is “When will my child SPEAK?”

Speech is great but communication is more valuable for Sanjith. In the opinion of Navneet, Speech is a form of communication where oral motor skills are used to express thoughts and needs whereas communication is a complete process of understanding language and decoding it in different mode in the form of non verbal and verbal means.

So are we really looking for speech or communication?
Other day, a dad was telling me that since his kid is not speaking, she will not understand anything that is being taught. Is it really so?

As described by Aratrik Dey, Speech is only a mode of communication not the measure of intelligence.

There are non-speaking autistics who are writing books, attending conferences, advocating for entire fraternity. At other end, we have parents who still think that “Non-Speaking is non-thinking” . For those parents, our suggestion would be please look beyond speech.

According to Nishant, speech is only one way of communicating-there are many ways that we all use-gestures, expressions, writing and text- it is important to make communication accessible to ALL by accepting all ways. Adding to Nishant’s statement, Akshat says that communication is meaningful to express mind thoughts whether you have speech or not. It is the way to impart information through writing/behaviour as per Aadi.

They don’t see enough motivation in conventional speech therapy where the kid has to keep on saying “Pa”, “Ba”, “Ma” so on. When my motivation is cookie, what’s the point in teaching other sounds?

And as Aditi rightly puts it, speech is a mere remix of the dictionary and communication is the structure the gives meaning to the words.

Some kids have basic sounds and parents want to develop speech around those sounds. There is nothing wrong in it. But how much does other person actually understand what the kid is trying to convey? One cannot lead an entire life with few words. Some might wonder how speech is different from communication?

As Sarrvajeet mentions, speech is restricted to Mouth and Throat whereas communication is a broader concept and term where facial expressions and body language play a major role.

Also kids need to develop conversation, give their opinions on various topics, should be able to make a decision for themselves and above all, they should feel COMPETENT. All these wouldn’t possible with few sounds/words.

In Tarun Paul’s words, communication frankly happens much more frequently and fluently than we even realise, binding humanity with its power, whilst speech is highly overrated and misused.

Our kids need more of Communication Therapists than SLPs. A communication therapist should be able to use various AAC (Augmentive and Alternative Communication) modes. Some use picture based, some use technology based and some use gestures. Few of the popular AAC are listed below.
PECS has got more to do with Picture based Communication. One can go through to know more about PECS.
Some like Avaz, Proloquo2go, Jellow are technology based AAC.
There is also something called S2C (Spell2Communicate). It is gaining momentum in western countries and is based on establishing communication through spelling on alphabet boards. Read about S2C on
Ability to express is everyone’s right whether child is speaking or non-speaking.

As per Tarun Verma, communication is not only speech; everyone need to understand and respect the various modes.

When right mode is presented to child, they would feel competent and one can witness a confident kid whether in school or gatherings or in family itself!!

Anudeep says-Speech is the way most of us convey our thoughts but to express love, empathy and understanding, communication is the universal language.

So next time when you ask reframe the question to when will my kid communicate?”

To know more about the book and authors, please watch the discussion video below on “Communication beyond Speech”. One can get to see the introduction of all authors (in their own words) along with a panel discussion moderated by prominent Special Educator Ms. Simmi Vasu. The panel consisted of Veteran Special Educator Ms. Padma Ramani along with Ms. Vijaya Mary (Journalist from Hindu) and Ms.Anjana Satyabodha (Founder of Subodha and SLP who believes in multi modal communication). All the three have read and reviewed the book on various mediums. Also listen to the editors of Talking Fingers Ms.Padma Jyothi (parent blogger), Ms. Chitra Paul (Founder, All Inclusive Foundation) and Ms.Rashmi (Hindi edition translator) about their lived experiences while editing book. Heading everyone is Ms. Shilpi Mayank Awasti, founder of Special Saathi.

Recordings of the panel discussion:

Communication beyond speech discussion on the book Talking Fingers (part 1)
Communication beyond speech discussion on the book Talking Fingers (part 2)

And last but not the least, don’t forget to order your copy on amazon.
For English edition
For Hindi edition-
It would be a great if you can leave a review too!!!
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Written by-

Prashanthi Vankamamidi and authors of Talking Fingers
(Authors who contributed in this blog- Anudeep, Aditi, Aratrik, Akshat, Aadi, Navneet, Nishant, Sarrvajeet, Sanjith, Tarun Verma, Tarun Paul)

Creative representation for this blog is done by our extremely talented CreativeSaathi associate Morpheus Nag