Though your child might be able to repeat the words you say and answer specific questions you consistently practice with them, they may benefit from expanding the various functions of communication. Direct imitation is not communication. There are many reasons we communicate and interact with the environment around us, we call these reasons the “functions of communication”. So what are the different functions when we communicate and why do speech pathologists focus on various communication functions? We have compiled a list of some of the functions of communication we focus on during speech therapy sessions:
Functions of Communication:
We use requesting to get a desired person, show, item or action etc. Wewe typically start providing models for requesting in regards to communicative functions as it is the most reinforcing function of communication for many children. During therapy this might look like the speech therapist modeling “more” to continue a game, song or action.
- Refusing and rejecting
Refusing and rejecting it is important so that your child can voice their opinions and speak out to avoid meltdowns! Refusing and rejecting also are essential to help you understand what your child’s interests are. Even though the idea of your child saying “no” or shaking their head “no” might seem like something that should not be taught, we want children to advocate for themselves.
- Requesting attention
Requesting attention focuses on socially improving your communication functions. Examples a child might model as a fall for attention is tapping on a communication partner’s shoulder to get their attention or a child calling “hi”, “dad!” when they want to talk to him.
- Labeling and describing
Labeling and describing certain items or movements allows you to communicate about the activities you are working with. It is one of the best communicative ways to build language! Describing items can also assist with making requests and comments more specific for children to address their thoughts.
In a situation, this involves providing information, sometimes just for social reasons. It is often used to gain social interaction or share experiences
- Asking and Answering Questions
An important function of communication is to be able to ask and address questions. Who, what, where, when, why, and how types of questions are used throughout everyday communication to gain or provide more information about situations. Being able to communicate through these questions allows you to gain more information about life and keep a constant flow of conversation.
There are even more communication functions, but these examples, functions, and practice ideas are great starting points to improve communication and language skills. Language learning will be more fun, engaging, and motivating when a variety of communication functions are included! Try them out with your child!