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Communicating Without Talking

Some children are unable to rely on speech to communicate all of their needs and thoughts. These children will need to use additional strategies or communication aids to help them communicate with the world around them. Many children use a combination of methods in different situations depending on what suits them best. These resources can take many forms and may be used in different combinations specific to each child. 

There are low tech methods such as gesture, signing, symbols and communication books/boards. More high-tech methods include: single message switches, computer-based systems and iPads.

For some children this will be a short-term solution to support them whilst their speech is developing whereas for others Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC), in one form or another, will be an important part of their communication throughout their life. 

  • Signing can be used to help people understand spoken language as the signs provide extra clues. Signing can also be used to help people who have problems speaking e.g. making sentences or producing the necessary sounds. Signing can also be used for people with learning difficulties in order to give them a basic means of communication.


  • Visual aids can be used to help children understand spoken language as they provide extra visual clues. Visual aids can be particularly useful for children experiencing hearing and attention difficulties as well as difficulties understanding and using language.

    *Click here* to find out more.

  • A communication book is a book or folder that helps people to communicate using symbols or pictures. They are used to help people who can understand more than they can say or to support their speech if it is not always clear. They also support children with their language development.

  • Model the use of the tablet to the child consistently throughout their daily routine/activities. Repetition is the key to helping your child learn. 

  • The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), is a communication system that allows children to use pictures to requests objects and activities and to comment on the world around them.

Who Can Help?

You can contact the Norfolk & Waveney Speech & Language Therapy Service by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

You can speak to other Norfolk parents and carers by clicking our online community forum below. 


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