Communicating effectively

Awareness of communication barriers.

Effective communication includes being mindful of your potential communication barriers which may impact on the conversation. When working with the child or young person:

  • listen carefully to what is being said
  • be aware of information that is shared through non verbal communication methods such as body language and eye contact. Remember to include this in your note taking
  • avoid expectations and prejudices which may lead to false assumptions or stereotyping. Ensure you suspend judgement and avoid any pre-conceived views
  • respect differences in perceptions and viewpoint.
  • recognise that the child or young person may experience high levels of anxiety in one to one communication situations. They may require relationship building or calming activities before beginning conversations
  • ensure you use language that is suitable and familiar to the child or young person. This includes being aware of differences in terminology, word meaning and accents
  • remain impartial on topics that may be regarded as ‘off-limits’ or taboo. For example, politics, religion, disabilities (mental and physical), sexuality and sex, racism
  • give the child or young person your full attention and show interest in what they are communicating. Avoid being distracted or rushed
  • recognise the child or young person’s communication behaviours. Not all children use oral language, their ‘voice’ may feature multiple modalities or behaviours
  • recognise that the child or young person may mask their true feelings, may be unable to label their feelings, may respond with learned scripts or give responses which they believe the adult wants to hear
  • be aware of physical disabilities, for example hearing problems, speech difficulties that may impact on the conversation
  • be aware of neurodiverse conditions (autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) which may impact on the child or young person’s ability to understand and process verbal and non verbal communication
  • consider the environment in which the conversation is to take place. From your knowledge of the child or young person, you may need to consider sensory distractions (visual, auditory, olfactory, proprioceptive) and whether the child or young person is familiar or comfortable with the space
  • be aware of sensory supports used in the classroom (fidget toys, weighted supports, ear defenders) that impact on the child or young person’s ability to engage in conversation.