How Technology Can Help Your Child Develop Their Communication
There are many different ways to learn and develop communication. Human interaction is definitely the best way for children to adapt and learn language, but over the years technology has certainly been having an impact on how children learn to communicate. Communication is a life long learning process beginning at birth. We communicate in many different ways like listening, speaking, gesturing, reading and writing.
WHAT IS TECHNOLOGY?
When we use the word “technology” today, it is often used to refer to high technology- computers, cell phones, rockets – rather than technology in general. We know there are different types of technology as mentioned above or the radio, MP3 players, television, DVD players, gaming systems, cameras, voice/video recorders etc.
HOW CAN TECHNOLOGY HELP DEVELOP COMMUNICATION?
Building Speech & Language Skills
Technology can also act as a learning tool in regards to building language skills or increasing speech sound productions skills. There are many apps out there today that can help in the skills in these above areas, but it is important for parents and caregivers to monitor the amount of time spent on these apps. These apps are great as a secondary learning tool and the best and most successful approach to learning language or building intelligibility of speech is through learning from a person. Technology acts more as a facilitator to build more speech and language. It compliments learning through another person.
Help For “At Risk” Children
For children with cognitive and physical disabilities, the traditional “human interaction” communication process may be far more challenging, so alternative methods might need to be explored. Technology is great tool to assist in the communication process at the early intervention stage of development of communication. It’s great to take a “total communication” route and expose children to small doses of various forms of communication.
Assistive technology is an option to help these children communicate. Help for children who are at risk for difficulty in developing, sending, and receiving early communication signals can be available through assistive technology. Technology will not interfere with the development of spoken language but act as more of a facilitator to build more language. We communicate through gestures, facial expressions, speech, reading, writing, drawing and music.
PROS AND CONS OF USING TECHNOLOGY
Children can access all the needed knowledge instantly; with the internet, students can accumulate more information quickly and efficiently rather than venturing to the library and sorting through books, articles etc.
Allows children to communicate with each other through email, chat rooms, discussion boards etc. and share information efficiently.
Can be a motivator. Children may struggle with specific tasks and the technology gains their attention and recaptures their interest and pulls them back into learning.
Can cause frustration if the child doesn’t know how to access and work it.
Learning with technology is not fully integrated and useful until children are learning from it and not with it.
Poor connection problems.
HOW TO BALANCE TECHNOLOGY AND HUMAN INTERACTION
Communication involves at least two people. When a child is young the primary focus of intervention should be on the communication partners of the child which will probably include the parents and siblings. If assistive technology is involved be sure to ask for individualized training on any piece of technology recommended for your child. This training should also include using the technology in as many activities as possible (e.g. feeding, playing, using the bathroom).
Speech and sound making should also be encouraged no matter how involved a child’s physical, cognitive or seeing, hearing, sensory abilities may be. The most rapid period of speech development occurs between birth and 7 years of age. During this time, children learn to use a hundred different muscles to talk. Sounds should still be encouraged even if a child is using an assistive device. Speech sounds, even if not true words, can often be interpreted by listeners as communication signals.
Amy Grossi is a pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist, practicing for over 10 years. Amy enjoys the area of early language, literacy development, apraxia and fluency. She has a passion for working with children with multiple developmental needs and implementing creative and interactive treatment sessions.