Characteristics of Children as Communicators

GUIDE FOR DETERMINING CHARACTERISTICS OF CHILDREN

WHO FUNCTION AS DIFFERENT TYPES OF COMMUNICATORS

Listed in Developmental Sequence

Adapted from: INSITE

Characteristics of

children who may

use speech

Auditory Behaviors

-Child quiets to voice or gazes at speaker’s face

-Child attends to sounds (aware of sounds, but may not yet know meanings; stops or appears to listen)

-Child recognizes sounds (knows meaning but may not yet be able to locate)

-Child locates sounds (turns to, points to, moves to sound source)

-Child hears sounds from far away, above, and below

-Child hears differences among and understands some home sounds (TV, car)

-Child hears and understands differences among vocal sounds (bow-wow, arf-arf)

–Child hears differences among and understands distinct speech sounds (bat /cat)

Communication Behaviors

-Child communicates needs with differentiated cries (hunger, pain, discomfort, etc.)

-Child makes infant sounds (coos, gurgles, sucking sounds)

-Child babbles (repeated sounds/gagagagaga, or double and single syllables / ba ba, or different syllables /ah goo or badaga)

-Child vocalizes while looking at or trying to attract an adult’s attention

-Child vocalizes during play, indicating pleasure

-Adult vocalizes, then infant vocalizes in response (turn-taking)

-Child imitates vocal sounds

-Child adds many consonant sounds to babbling (/t/, /n/, /f/, /d/, etc.)

-Child uses jargon (jabber or short sentence-like utterances of sound without meaning)

-Child vocalizes emotions (angry or pleasurable sounds)

-Child produces single words

-Child uses 2+ word combinations (parroting or echolalia may become a problem

 

Environmental Behaviors

-Child uses objects to make noises (pounds on surface, bangs objects together

-Child associates sounds with persons, objects, and events

-Caregivers give evidence of incorporating elements of meaningful communicative interaction (turn-taking, face-to-face contact, touch)

-Caregivers play and interact often with child

-Caregivers respond to child’s language

attempts (reinforce, expand child’s

language)

Characteristics of children who may use formal signs Visual Behaviors

-Child gazes at face of caregiver

-Child focuses on object within 15”

-Child notices patterns, brightness, and movement

-Child visually tracks objects in motion

-Child can see facial expressions and gestures of others

-Child’s vision is not impaired to the degree that it would interfere with learning through the visual mode

Communication Behaviors

-Child is aware of surroundings (faces and/or voices)

-Child pre-babbles (facial expressions, coos, gurgles)

-Child babbles or gestures

-Child understands single words or signs

-Child uses jargon (jabber or short sentence-like utterances or sounds or hand motions without meaning

-Child uses single words or signs

-Child understands two word or sign sequences

-Child understands 3+ word or sign sequences

-Child uses 3+ word or sign sequences

 

Environmental Behaviors

-Caregivers give evidence of incorporating elements of meaningful communicative interaction (turn-taking, face-to-face, touch)

-Caregivers play and interact frequently with child

-Caregivers respond to child’s language attempts (reinforce, expand the child’s language attempts)

Characteristics of children who may use augmentative communication

systems

Medical/Physical Status

-Child is at risk for speech (problems in functioning of mouth, breathing, is cognitively disabled, or autistic)

-Child has feeding problems (especially beyond 3-7 months of age)

-Child has at least one part of the body that can respond consistently

-Child’s motor or neurological problems make it extremely difficult for him or her to imitate or spontaneously produce a formal sign

Communication Behaviors

-Child seeks information by touching or groping

-Child can attend to a specific object or person (primarily tactilely) for at least 10-15 seconds (holds onto mother or object)

-Child knows that objects exist even when out of sight (e.g., does not cry when mother leaves because knows mother will return)

-Child knows the meaning of a few objects (primarily tactilely) such as a bottle, toy, and blanket

-Child shows some interest in changes in the environment

-Child has a sense of control over the environment (by doing something, something will happen)

-Child can discriminate between yes and no (e.g., head nod or shake)

-Child can understand some symbols (auditorily, tactilely, visually)

-Child does not attempt to imitate formal signs that parents help him or her make

-Child does not attempt to make formal signs on his or her own

-Child has a sense of sequencing of events (e.g., first sock goes on, then shoe)

 

Environmental Behaviors

-Parents are supportive of using

communication aids

 

Visual Behaviors

-Child can discriminate simple pictures of common objects and events no larger than six inches in diameter (when shown a simple drawing of a cup, will look at a real cup)

 

NOTE: It is possible to obtain communication boards that have very large pictures or concrete tactile representations for children with very limited vision, however, these boards are somewhat limited in their usefulness.

Characteristics of children who may use formal coactive signs Motor Behaviors

-Child has some degree of voluntary motor control of at least one hand

-Child has a range of voluntary motion with at least one arm

-Child is not tactilely defensive (does not resist parent touching child or helping child make hand motions)

-Child is capable of moving at least one hand into different hand positions

 

Communication Behaviors

-Child can attend to a specific object or person (primarily tactilely) for at least 10-15 seconds

-Child uses gestures for communication purposes

-Child is capable of discriminating different communicative gestures used by others (primarily tactilely)

-Child willingly allows parents to form signs on child’s hand

-Child can discriminate different signs parents help form on his hands

-Child attempts to imitate signs that parents help form on her hands

-Child makes signs on his or her own for his intentions and the objects and actions hat he or she experiences

-Child is capable of generalizing the use of some signs into a variety of situations, people, times

-Child realizes signs exist for objects, actions, etc., experienced by others (signs made by child’s hand on or near other person’s body)

-Child understands signs used by others and responds in sign or with appropriate behavior

 

Environmental Behaviors

-Caregivers are responsive to the use of formal signs and use them consistently

Characteristics of children who may use informal communication -Child shows little or no attempt to interact with people

-Child shows little or no attempt to interact with nearby objects or people, even when they have deliberately been made accessible

-Child does not appear to be interested in exploring the space around him or her, physically, or within limits if available vision and hearing

-Child shows little or no change in behavior as a result of changes in his environment (auditory, visual, social, etc)

-Child has been diagnosed to have severe deficits in vision and hearing -Child has a medical diagnosis of low cognitive ability in addition to a visual and/or auditory deficit

-Child has motor impairments, in addition to vision and/or hearing impairments, that significantly restrict his voluntary responses

-Child’s motor impairments in combination with his or her visual and /or auditory impairments prevent speech from developing normally.

-Child demonstrates self-stimulatory behaviors to the degree that he shows little or no interest in the environment

-Child shows repeated defensiveness and/or irritability when approached or picked up by people or when given objects with different textures or temperatures.

-Child has no way of indicating wants, other than crying or fussing

-Child demonstrates one or more signals in connection with same activity or person (attempts to communicate)

-Child is willing to be moved coactively (allows someone to help him or hear make a hand or body motion)

-Child does not attempt to imitate formal signs that parent help child make

-Child does not attempt to make formal signs on his own

 

Adapted by Karen L. Anderson, Audiology Consultant, Florida Early Hearing Loss Detection and Intervention Project, January 2002

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