Occupational Therapist, Sibling, yoga

Working with Individuals with Limited Language

Sibling who is considered nonverbal

I was putting together a presentation for the Global Yoga Therapy Summit . Although I was not chosen to give a live presentation, they did ask for a pre-recorded 45 minute presentation. I really wanted to talk about working with individuals that don’t use verbal language to communicate. So without giving away the entire presentation, I did want to list my top 10 for those who either work with individuals who do not talk or are limited in using verbal communication. For my complete presentation, please follow Global Yoga Therapy Day on social media. This may turn into a continuing education later on down the road as well.

I have had many OT and OTA students over the years and I forget that this is not common knowledge. I have had students who are intimated by or just completely freaked out when working with someone who does not talk back and does not follow directions. I will never forget the OTR student who was walked all over by a 2 year old with down syndrome and her treatment plan did not work.

10. No verbal language is not the same as deaf and/or have nothing to say.

photo of boy biting his right hand

9.Behavior is a form of communication

round silver colored wall clock


8. Allow for increased processing time to respond to a direction. Try waiting at least 30 seconds before repeating a direction.

OM Shanti by a child considered nonverbal

7. Mantras can be used if children do “not talk”. Listen above.

woman doing yoga

6. Explain what comes next

5. Watch the eyes- they will tell you everything. What do you think he is plotting here?

4. Be mindful of the environment

3. Try all types of communication to see what works best for that individual (My brother requesting what he wanted to cook using a cook book. IQ is not 20!)

administration agreement banking blur

2. Find out if the individual has a legal guardian

and number 1- connection is key!

There is so much more that good be written or talked about here. This presentation was put together for those thinking about working with developmental disabilities or anyone with limited verbal language but with normal hearing.

I would love to hear from other therapists on your thoughts and best practices. Please like, share, and comment.

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