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Understanding Communication

Updated: Sep 5, 2018

The ability to observe is one of the most important tools that a parent can have.  Through observation a parent can identify the movements, mannerisms, and language that create the individual’s regulated state.  And through observation a parent may identify when a stressor (a new idea, expectation, or environmental change) has been introduced and may lead to a state of over-stimulation or intense emotion.   Below are features that I use to create my picture of an individual’s whole communication.   An individual beginning to speak quickly when heading into their favorite restaurant or hand-flapping during an intriguing discussion is simply a cue that a stressor has been introduced. 

Gait – The way that someone moves their limbs, positions their feet, carries their shoulders and moves their torso while walking will tell you very much about the person’s state.  For some individuals on the spectrum, it’s as simple as identifying that they’ve changed from flat-footed walking to toe-walking.  For others, it may be a small change in walking pace or a slumping of the shoulders.

Body Language – Changes in body language are another great indicator that a change has taken place.  These changes are typically easily observed, but can be as subtle as someone uncrossing their arms, or squaring their shoulders with yours. 

Eye contact – Observing that eye contact has either been initiated or averted is another great indicator of a change in state.  The person may not be able to process facial and verbal information at the same time. They may be confused by the social importance of facial gazing.

Language – Language is a dynamic entity.  There are many factors that need to be attended to when observing language.  Changes in tone, pace and word choice can all be used to identify that a person has deviated from their regulated state. 

Appearance – A person’s appearance is an indicator of how much support is required in the area of adaptive functioning.

It is important that we recognize the person’s whole communication, as this guides us and helps to maximize their regulation. Written by Joseph Mainez Joseph is an Autism Specialist employed by asdconsultancy. You can contact him at joseph@asdconsultancy.com or 562 964 8844 www.asdhelp.com

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