Communication is a basic human right. Imagine having difficulty communicating…. What impact would that have on your life? Well, in fact 1.2 million Australians have a communication difficulty…. That is nearly 1 in every 20 Australians!

So, what is communication?

Communication is MORE than just speech – it is writing, reading, using gestures or signs, using a voice output device, understanding and using our body to convey or understand a message.

How can you support someone with a communication difficulty?

  • Always treat the person with dignity and respect!
  • Be welcoming and friendly
  • Understand there are many ways to communicate
  • Ask the person with the disability what will help with communication
  • Avoid loud locations, find a quiet place
  • Listen carefully
  • When you don’t understand, let them know you are having difficulty understanding
  • If you think the person has not understood, repeat what you have said or say it a different way
  • Try asking the person yes or no questions if you are having difficulty understanding them
  • Ask the person to repeat or try another approach if you don’t understand
  • To make sure you are understood, check with the person that you have understood them correctly
  • If you ask a question, wait for the person to reply
  • Allow the person time to respond, so always be patient
  • Speak directly to the person and make eye contact. (Though be mindful that there are some people who may not want you to look at them, e.g. some people with autism spectrum disorder)
  • Speak normally. There is no need for you to raise your voice or slow your speech.

Most importantly, just enjoy being with the person and spending time together having fun. There is so much of communication that happens without words, a smile, a nod, a wink… make every minute of your time together count!

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

* Adapted from Speech Pathology Australia