Communicating in the Real World
Now that we are thinking about communication and what is working or not working with your child, how do we get your child to start practicing their communication in the real world? As I make decisions, I think about how I’m raising an adult in the workforce, a father who needs to take his child to the doctor, a man who may love to travel. What skills and information does he need to learn now in order to become a successful, happy, adventurous adult? How can we practice and how do we know if our practice is working?
How do you know if it’s working?
Below are a few situations where I intentionally worked with Xiao on communication. There are an endless number of opportunities to practice communication in the real world. I hope these will help guide you in circumstances that best fit you and your child.
While in a restaurant
I started this with Xiao as soon as he started having opinions on what he ate. We enjoy going out to eat. Early on, we would immediately go through all his options on the kids menu. If he didn’t know what something was, we would look it up on a phone so he could see the picture. Once he chose what he wanted to eat, I would pose the question, “Do you want to order or do you want me to order?” This let him know he had a voice and could use it when ready. If he wanted to order, we would go over his options on how he could do it.
- You can say it yourself
- Sign it and I will voice
- Point to the menu
- Write it down or circle it on the menu
- Type it on the phone
Eventually my offer to order for my son changed to, “If you want to eat, you’ll have to order for yourself.” haha Now he knows that he has to decide what he wants to eat and how he’s going to communicate that. On occasion, he will ask that I do it for him if it’s busy or we are with a large group.
How do you know if your child is learning to communicate while at a restaurant?
You’ll know your child is able to communicate in a restaurant if they’re able to order their food without a hitch. They’ll use their strategies to figure out what they want to eat and how to order.
communicating While Traveling in an airport
We have been blessed to be able to travel. While walking through the airport, I point out people he can ask for help if we get separated. I also go through the chain of events that must take place before we sit on the plane.
An example of that we discuss is below.
- Buying Tickets
- Checking to see that the flight is on time
- Airport Security: This is a process in itself and when the most communication with a stranger happens. We talk about the questions he will be asked like his name, age, and the items he is carrying.
- Finding Gate
Upon our return, I go through the chain of events that take place when we land.
- Clean up our space and repack our bags
- Wait for our turn to get up
- Get carry on if needed
- Exit the plane
- Head to baggage claim
How do you know if your child is learning to communicate while at an airport?
You’ll know your child is learning to communicate while in an airport when he/she is able to tell TSA their name either verbally or written. They’ll be able to find their way around the airport by following signs (written communication). Your child can also show their ability to communicate in an airport if they’re able to point out people they can turn to for help if necessary and explain their needs to those individuals. (This is something you will need to practice and role play).
The last time we traveled, I had a proud mom moment. Xiao was pulled to the side to be questioned and checked over. He immediately let them know that he was having difficulty hearing and deferred to me to help make communication happen. This let me know that he’s learning to express his communication needs even when the situation can be stressful.
Communicating while interacting with adults and peers
Sometimes our kids have more people in and out of their daily lives than other kids. It is important for our kids to see the value in a name. This goes for both casual situations and safety issues. Kids need to be able to communicate who they have interacted with. They need to be able to address others by their name to build connections. As far as safety is concerned…IF someone is treating your child poorly, your child needs to be able to name the individual in question so that you can stop any maltreatment from continuing.
To help our kids start to learn names, we need to be proactive and intentional in spelling people’s names. Write names in a list, label pictures, and practice fingerspelling names. You can make this fun. “Let’s have a competition to see who can write the names of everyone they talked to today.”
How do you know if your child is learning to communicate who they are interacting with daily?
You will know this is happening when your kids can clearly state the names of people while they are telling stories. If you ask, “Who was that?” You will get a name for an answer instead of a shoulder shrug.
Communicating to get their point across
We want our kids to know their voice matters. While at home, I make sure to take the extra time needed to understand what Xiao is trying to tell me. If I am not understanding, I ask him to think of other ways he can get his point across. Never say, “Nevermind.” We will google pictures, draw pictures, act out things, or try different words. It’s difficult to do when life is rushed, but taking the time to help your child now will pay off in the long run.
How do you know if your child is learning to communicate their point?
You will be able to see them use their strategies with others. Family gathering are a great place to sit back and watch to see if they are communicating with others in a safe environment.
Remember, we’re raising future adults! As much as I adore my child, I don’t want him living with me until he’s 45! I don’t want to have to join him for doctor visits…I’d prefer to NOT know what’s going on as he enters adulthood. I want him to be an independent adult who is confident to live his life.
Lindsay’s Language Lounge
Multiple meaning words are words that are spelled the same but have different meanings when used in a different context. Each of my blogs will have a different multiple meaning word and ways that you can incorporate its use in everyday conversations.
This month’s multiple meaning word is…BARK!
- Point out bark on a tree.
- “Oy! That dog won’t quit barking!”
- If your child is being bossy you can say,”Stop barking orders at me.” (If you want to add some humor, feel free to start barking every time a demand comes your way. haha)
We’d Love to Hear From You…
We look forward to sharing information on topics that are of interest to you as well as relevant to the area of Deaf Education. Here is a link to get feedback on the topics you would like to be covered https://forms.gle/k68CSrARgbbXMsdV9.