Communication skills activities are important for all students but they may be even more important for special needs students. Not all teachers are aware of how much work goes into the development of communication skills, which is why these communication skills activities will be especially helpful. They can be used individually or as part of a larger unit on communication skills.
People with good communication skills are often perceived as being more effective leaders, more successful in the workplace, and better communicators overall. These skills can be broken into two categories: verbal and non-verbal. Verbal communication includes speaking, writing, reading, listening, and interpreting language. Non-verbal communication includes facial expressions, eye contact, body language, gestures, tone of voice, posture, and physical appearance.
Students with autism may have trouble communicating their feelings or understanding the feelings of others. One way to help these students is to give them scenarios that describe an emotional state and then have them identify what the person might say in that situation. For instance, if a student is told about a boy who has been excluded from activities at school, the student might be asked what they think he would say in that situation. Understanding the proper response can help students learn how to communicate appropriately in different situations.
Another activity involves helping students develop empathy by putting themselves in the shoes of another person and describing how they would feel if they were in certain scenarios. For instance, students might be asked to imagine what it would be like if they had been excluded from playing on a sports team at school or had difficulty reading because they couldn’t see well due to an eye disorder.
As a special education teacher, one of the most challenging things about my job is figuring out how to help my students develop their communication skills. It’s crucial that we can teach them to communicate with the people around them, and it’s important that they can understand what other people are saying to them.
A child who has difficulty processing auditory information or producing speech may struggle to communicate. Hearing loss can also impact communication. In order to succeed in school and social situations, children need to have good listening skills. These activities will help children with special needs improve their listening skills:
- Play “Simon Says.” This classic game requires children to listen carefully for verbal cues from the leader of the game and follow those instructions only. This activity helps build attention span and impulse control in addition to listening skills.
- Practice using different voices for characters during story time. Have your child repeat words or phrases after you speak them slowly and clearly.
- Play “I Spy.” This game encourages careful listening as players try to figure out which object is being described by the other player’s clues.
Communication activities for special needs students should begin with teaching the basics of communication. You may need to teach the student how to use words or phrases to get what he needs from others. For example, you could teach the student to say “I want water” when he is thirsty instead of crying or hitting his teacher because he cannot verbalize what he wants. These activities are particularly helpful when teaching non-verbal students who have not learned sign language.
Students with limited speech abilities will still need to communicate non-verbally even if they do know some words or phrases. Non-verbal communication can include shaking your head yes or no, smiling and frowning, pointing to objects and letting out a cry or scream when something is wrong.
Effective communication is one of the most important life skills we can learn—yet one we don’t usually put a lot of effort into. Whether you want to have better conversations in your social life or get your ideas across better at work, learning how to communicate more effectively can help you be more successful in every area of your life. For students with special needs, communication is especially important because it is a key component of building relationships and interacting with others. If a student has problems communicating, this can affect his ability to develop friendships and succeed professionally.
The first step in establishing effective communication skills is to identify barriers to communication. You might have a student who has trouble speaking clearly because he has apraxia or another developmental issue that makes it difficult for him to form sentences. Another student might be able to speak but not write, or vice versa. A third child might struggle with reading comprehension or stutter when he attempts to read aloud.
It’s important for you as a teacher of special needs children to determine what type of problem each student has so you can design lessons that will help him overcome his individual challenges and learn the skills he needs for success.