Using Expressions to Encourage Communication
Why Is This Goal Important?
Facial expressions and body language are a very powerful means of communication. They can make communication clearer by:
- Emphasizing a spoken or signed message
- Adding more information to the spoken or signed message
- Taking the place of spoken words or signs.
We know that:
- Visual information such as facial expressions can be so powerful that when the auditory communication (what we hear) and visual communication (the expression we see on someone’s face) is contradictory, we tend to pay more attention to the visual message
- When we speak, we change the intonation in our voice to add meaning to our message. Young deaf and hard of hearing children may have more difficulty hearing these intonation changes, so we can add visual information for them by making our faces more expressive
- We can keep a baby’s attention longer if we are more expressive with our faces — and if we use gestures
- Young children communicate using facial expression and body language long before they say or sign their first word (see Observing Your Child’s Communication)
- It is very important for parents of young deaf and hard of hearing children to be aware of their use of facial and body expressions and to understand how to successfully use these communication tools to build their child’s developing language skills.