In last week’s article we started speaking about the label debate of what persons with disabilities are called and what myths go along with these labels. To continue this series of articles further, this week we will look at persons with various disabilities that may find it difficult to communicate. We give easy guidance on what to do and what not to do.
These types of disabilities might be more common as many main stream schools might accept children with these disabilities. There might then be a need then to not only sensitise the staff but also fellow students, on how to communicate better with persons with these types of disabilities. Below we discuss some of the most common ones that can be a good guide to start with:
People with speech disabilities
A person who has had a stroke, is deaf, uses a voice prosthesis or has a stammer or other type of speech disability may be difficult to understand.
- Do give the person your full attention.
- Do repeat what they said if you are not sure you understood.
- Do ask him/her to write down or suggest another way of facilitating communication.
- Do use a quiet environment to make communication easier.
- Do pay attention, be patient, and wait for the person to complete a word or thought.
- Don’t be afraid to communicate with someone who uses pen and paper, an alphabet board or a computer that speaks.
- Don’t tease or laugh at a person with a speech disability.
- Don’t interrupt or finish the person’s sentences.
People with learning disabilities
Learning disabilities are lifelong disorders that interfere with a person’s ability to receive, express or process information.
- Do give them verbal explanations and allow extra time for reading.
- Do ask the person how you can best relay information.
- Do keep communication simple.
- Do allow the person time to tell or show you what he or she wants.
- Do give extra time for the person to process what you are saying and to respond. Look for signs of stress and/or confusion.
- Don’t be surprised if you tell someone very simple instructions and he requests that you write them down.
People with autism
Autism is a lifelong, developmental disability that affects a person’s social and communication skills.
- Do be patient and understanding.
- Do keep in mind that they may seem anxious or insecure due to living in a world that misunderstands them.
- Do keep in mind that everyone is different. These issues will vary from person to person.
- Don’t get offended by people with autism asking a lot of questions.
- Don’t get offended by their communication style which could be frank, honest and matter of fact.
- Don’t expect eye contact.
- Don’t speak down to them.
- Don’t talk too loudly or yell at them.
- Don’t touch them without warning.
- Don’t assume that they lack empathy or emotion.
Remember to keep an eye out for more of these articles all form part of a series in preparation of International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December.