To communicate

Most people think communication refers only to talking. However, communication involves much more! Children learn to communicate long before they learn to talk. On this page we discuss some of the many different aspects of communication.

What is communication?

Everybody communicates every day, in lots of different ways. Whenever two people spend time with each other they are probably communicating. It may only be a smile to say ‘hello’, or a nod to say it is OK to sit down on the same park bench. People are communicating when they make a phone call, write a note for someone, or even send an email.


What is communication about?

Communication is about:

  • being able to understand the meaning of what is being said or done to you and around you
  • being able to express your thoughts, feelings and ideas.

We all communicate in lots of different ways. Your child is communicating when they:

  • cry and rub their eyes
  • hold up their new toy, look at their Grandma and give a big smile
  • point at the door handle as they hear Daddy’s car coming in the driveway
  • say ‘uh’ as they point to that duck that has just eaten the bread!
  • even poking out a tongue sends a message that people can understand.

What could have been the message in these examples?

A few of them could have more than one message. For example, crying and rubbing eyes may be communicating that a child is tired. If they were in the bath washing their hair the message could be completely different – ‘yow, I have shampoo in my eyes’

Being able to work out and understand the message is the ‘other side of the coin’. Children have to look at and understand all sorts of things to work out the messages around them. For example:

  • A child may need to understand the meaning of Daddy shaking his head when he is reaching to pull his sister’s hair
  • A little girl may put out her arms to be picked up when Mum smiles, claps and stretches her arms out towards her
  • A child may get excited about a trip, when Nana grabs the car keys, says the child’s sister’s name and heads toward the door to do the school pick-up.


Communication for children with physical disabilities

If your child has a physical disability, he or she may have a very different experience of communication. Think about the following examples:

  • if your child finds it hard to point because of physical disability – they may find it hard to give the message that they want a toy – it may be hard for them to ‘show’ it to you by pointing at it and making you look at it
  • if your child has great difficulty controlling the muscles of their face or is unable to turn their head – your child may for example, find it hard to show that they don’t want any more mashed banana
  • if your child has a physical disability that makes their speech unclear – people may not talk to them as much – they may not have as many chances to learn how communication ‘works’.

Novita speech pathologists can give you and those in your support team, lots of great ideas about helping children learn to communicate. Speech pathologists may also work with your child to help them with their communication development.

Some of the areas in which speech pathologists may be able to help you are:

  • helping your child to develop early communication skills (all the early skills which a child develops before and while they are learning to talk)
    language, helping your child understand and use words
  • speech, helping your child pronounce words
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), helping your child if they are having difficulty speaking, to still be able to communicate
    written communication, teamed with an Occupational Therapist


Novita services for communication

Early Childhood Intervention 

Speech Pathology

Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC)

PODD Communication Books


Related external links has been designed especially for people suffering from dysphagia, and their carers and physicians. It is a one-stop shop with extensive information about the condition and has links to many other sites on this topic.

Speech Pathology Australia

The website of the National Association of Speech Pathology in Australia provides information for speech pathologists or people interested in becoming speech pathologists. It also has fact sheets about a range of speech and language difficulties that would be of interest to consumers.

If you would like information or free advice, speak to someone in our friendly team on 1300 NOVITA (1300 668 482) or visit our Contact Us page for more ways to get in touch.