Being able to communicate is a vital part of any child’s early development and yet it is an everyday struggle for children with cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy inhibits a child’s ability to speak, their capacity to use expressive and receptive language and their development of gestures and facial expressions.
An inability to communicate can be a barrier to social interaction, accessing education and can have a detrimental impact on a child’s self-esteem, mental wellbeing and quality of life.
The children begin with learning how to answer ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘something different’ in whichever way they are able, some children might do this through blinking, others might have wristbands and move their arms or head to respond to questions.
Children then start using a symbol-based model of communication. Each child has a communication book, tailored for them and as their understanding and pointing develops and their vocabulary expands, they are introduced to more and more symbols.
Just as an infant learns to talk, our children learn to communicate through absorbing information from their environment and from watching, listening and interacting with those around them.
At Pace we engage the children in an Enriched Total Communication Environment using sign, symbols, illustrations, photographs, objects of reference and technology to both support speech and to provide an alternative to speech for our nonverbal children.
By learning through play and using technology we open doors so that our children and young people have the freedom to make choices, express their point of view, talk about how they feel, bond with their family and build friendships.
At Pace, we start by helping our children develop the fundamental physical skills they need to communicate. The first steps are learning how to:
Our teaching within the school covers so many important areas – both the national curriculum, literacy as well as speech and language.
Having a voice means you have an outlet. A way to make your feelings known. You can ask for help and and express emotion. This removes feelings of frustration for the whole family.
Last Christmas, thanks to you, we got our own mini bus. We are now able to take the children into the community! We want them to be confident and comfortable interacting in new environments such as a library.