Children can encounter several difficulties in communication which can have an impact on social and academic development:

  1. Not speaking or very limited speech
  2. Loss of words the child was previously able to say
  3. Difficulty expressing basic wants and needs
  4. Poor vocabulary development
  5. Problems following directions or finding objects that are named
  6. Repeating what is said (echolalia)
  7. Problems answering questions
  8. Speech that sounds different (e.g., “robotic” speech or speech that is high-pitched)


In communication, we have different means to convey our intent to our communication partner. When we use our speech organs to speak, we are using language through verbal means. When we use gestures, such as pointing, or facial expressions, we are using non-verbal means. In non-verbal communication, we can use our body. For example, we nod or shake our head to indicate a yes or no.


Normally, we use nonverbal means to enhance our verbal message. However, for some people who lack the ability to use verbal means, non-verbal means is the only way to communicate. Some people use sign language as the primary means to communicate. Others who do not use sign language may use a combination of basic signs, gestures and external objects such as symbols or pictures.