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Pictures for communication

A picture says a thousand words. Yes, that is very true in the case of my son. Being a visual thinker he can understand anything very easily if it is in the form of picture.
Here I want to say an interesting story which happened when he was 2 years old. One day when we took him out for some shopping, he was playing near the parking lot. Suddenly he went near to a shop, looked up and saw something, then ran towards a nearby sign board on the platform and looked it up. The running became like a loop. We parents were little confused and not able to understand what exactly he was interested in. So we followed him and found that the nearby sign board also had the name of the same shop he was running to. He has been comparing the sign board on the platform with the board above the shop, as the same brand names in same styles were present in both places. This was before he knew to read any alphabets or speak.
Today I teach him everything by matching pictures even after he started to verbalize. However when we started it was challenging. Using pictures for communication would mean he has to request for something by giving a picture, for e.g. give milk picture (picture of milk in a sipper) to get milk. Initially this was little difficult and he was not able to get it easily. I will now go into full details of how I made it happen.
Again I listed down his interests. E.g. visiting shopping mall, drinking milk etc… I found he needs milk immediately after he got up from the bed. So I put a milk picture card near his pillow. Around his waking time one of us would be near to him and other person would be in the kitchen with milk ready. Once he got up I gave him the picture card without saying anything and made him to walk straight to kitchen and made him to give it to his dad. His dad would immediately give the milk sipper to him and he would walk away happily. We did this for some days like ritual hoping he could understand the concept one day.
I also made some picture cards of his interest like snacks, water, Mc Donalds, Shopping mall, park etc. and put it in places where he can access easily(like sticking pictures with Velcro in Fridge doors). One evening suddenly he rushed to the place of picture cards and handed over a picture to us. To our surprise it was Mc Donalds picture. Immediately we rushed him to Mc Donalds as a reward. When we shared to the experience to our speech therapist, she was delighted with our son’s progress and appreciated our effort to immediately reward him. She said you could have run even in your night dress. It was worth it. Yes that was true
Also soon he started using the milk picture card for requesting milk
Before he started to verbalize I used pictures for communication a lot with my son. Initially if we took him to places like park, shopping mall he was not able to associate it with picture. So I took photos of the particular place and used it as picture card. Before we start from home I showed him the picture card (say Park Picture) and tell him “Park”. I did not speak big sentences like “we are going to park”. This was to ensure he did not get confused with too many words and focused only on the key word “Park”.
Once I reached the park also I flashed the picture card once again and said “Park”. Like the milk and park examples, I used different approaches for different situations.
Pictures have been the wonderful first step in my son’s communication. Other babies communicate to mothers from the time they are born by crying for milk, food, experimenting little words as they grow up etc. But we missed all these phases for my son. But because his strength was visual, I got that phase again as he tried to communicate as much as possible with pictures. I had a huge list of photographs and pictures which were generally from his interest areas and he happily started using these to tell us what he wanted. Soon I was able to tap this picture communication to speech as well.
Tips
  1. Keep a set of pictures in your handbag, child’s bag, in your vehicle etc.
  2. I initially used photographs
  3. I also added words along with pictures. For e.g. Park Picture + “PARK” word at the bottom of this picture
  4. I faded out those pictures where he became comfortable with words. So no problem for generalization
  5. You can even have a set of pictures in your mobile.

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    Please click the following link for a comprehensive documentation of my journey with Aakash: Click Here
    Here is the link to the playlist of Activities done with Aakash, in YouTube: Click Here

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