Early Childhood Intervention: Module One – Typical and Atypical Development

Communication Development: A Brief Overview

Language/ Communication1

Language and communication refer to the ways children get their message across to others and understand what others are saying to them. Communication takes place  either verbally, by using words, or non-verbally, through the use of gestures. Verbal communication includes oral and written language, such as reading and writing. Non-verbal communication includes waving bye-bye and smiling.

Language is one way of communicating with others. It can be oral, written or signed (for example, American Sign Language).

Young children usually learn to communicate with others long before they learn how to talk. When young infants cry, they are trying to tell their caregiver that something is wrong. At this early stage, the only way they know how to express this is through crying. Babies who smile at their caregiver are telling the caregiver that they are glad to see them!

Children will continue to use non-verbal language, long after they have learned how to talk. Adults do the same thing. A two year-old who is speaking in two and three word phrases will still stomp his/her foot on the floor, when protesting something, even though he/she can talk. Children and adults alike use verbal and non-verbal language to communicate with others and get their points across all the time.

Language usually has four components: Expressive language, receptive language, pragmatics and articulation (see full Glossary).

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