Keep Communication Going with Active Listening

We all have had students who rarely, if ever, initiate communication.  Maybe for those kids, as well as for good initiators who use AAC, we should focus on teaching a variety of responses–not just answers to questions, but those comments that let their communication partner know they are actively listening.  Wouldn’t this simple step tend to increase communication exchanges?  Think about it…..when my uncle developed ALS and lost the ability to speak, family members, friends, and even medical professionals who should have known better, gradually stopped speaking to him beyond a perfunctory greeting.  He couldn’t make a sound or change his facial expression;  without this feedback, he ceased to be a true partner in communication, and talking to him was akin to talking to a piece of furniture.  He seemed to lose his humanity when he could no longer communicate, and people simply didn’t know how to keep a one-sided conversation going.  By providing our AAC students and verbal students who are on the ASD spectrum with a variety of comments and teaching them to use them when it is their turn in the conversation, our students will be more engaged in interactions, those interactions will likely last longer, and the number of people who want to interact with them may increase.  Here is a good article that explains how to do this:
https://aaclanguagelab.com/blog/active-listening

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