Transcript: Supporting someone who has difficulty speaking or understanding

Communication is about passing a message to another person. You could think about it like passing a ball. For someone who has trouble talking, extra support is needed to make sure the message gets passed successfully.

Each person will need different kinds of support, but there are three general guidelines to keep in mind – ready, set, go.

The first step is Ready – this means be ready to “catch” the person’s message. This means putting away distractions and focusing on the person’s words, actions and facial expressions. Try to understand as best you can what the person is communicating to you.

The second step is Set: Aim to set up your message to make it easy to “catch”. This means keeping your message short and clear. Giving a person lots of information at one time is like throwing someone ten balls and expecting them to catch them all. For some people, using extra supports while you talk like writing down the key words will help them to catch your message.

The last step is Go: Keep the conversation going. Sometimes the message won’t get across – the ball gets dropped. If a problem happens, keep trying. You might need to ask the other person questions to help you understand. You might need to try a different way to get your message across.

Supporting a person who has trouble talking can be challenging. Remember the three steps – like passing a ball – be ready to catch the message, set up your message to make it easy to catch, and keep going.