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Key Fact

Adjusting the environment to suit a person and supporting a person to develop appropriate ways of communicating their needs, wishes and desires is essential when trying to reduce behavioural difficulties.

Behaviours that Challenge Associated with Frustration Related to Communication Difficulties

"Her language is very poor. She does have very little communication. That is the one thing that gets her cross - when people can't understand her"

Sometimes we may see behaviours that challenge occurring when an individual has very good receptive language skills (understanding of language) but very poor expressive communication skills (ability to speak, use signs etc.) which makes them unable to communicate effectively with other people.

The use of the word ‘effectively’ is very important here as frustrations may often occur when the person is misunderstood or is unable to fully articulate (pronounce clearly) what they mean to other people.  We have seen this response to less effective communication in a number of individuals. 

Managing behaviours that challenge associated with frustration related to communication difficulties

  1. It is extremely important to ensure that all individuals have an effective form of communication.
  2. In order for communication to be effective it needs to be something that can be understood by everybody.
  3. Using signs and symbols to support verbal communication is also very important for those with articulation difficulties. Even if you and other familiar people can understand the person’s speech it is important to encourage methods that are effective in all environments and with all individuals.
  4. It is very important that any non-verbal communication system can ‘keep up’ with the person’s verbal language skills. So, if the person you care for finds that Makaton or PECS symbols are not sophisticated or quick enough for their level of verbal and receptive language, use a more complex signing system such as British Sign Language or some other communication device that can be used quickly and extensively.
  5. Early intervention of speech and language therapy is crucial for all individuals with intellectual disability.


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