How I Can Help Support Communication

| Ideas for Getting Started | | What do we already know? | | How do we share what we know? | When / Where should we start working on communication? | |

A formal communication evaluation should be completed by a qualified professional.
However, you can support communication before, after, or during the "professional assessment." Here are some ideas for getting started in exploring and supporting communication.

Ideas for Getting Started


For some ideas in getting started supporting communication, view the presentation below.

How you help may depend on your role in the team. For more information about the various roles in supporting communication, read "Casting Call for a Supporting Role" by Hill and Leary.
Download the article (PDF file) here.

What do we already know?

Communication Brainstorming Worksheet

Don't underestimate what you know!
Click to open a Word file of Brainstorming Worksheet

This form helps the team gather ideas and write down what is already known about the person's communication.
Download a copy of a Brainstorming Worksheet (Word or PDF file) here.

How do we share what we know?

Communication Profile

Record the ways the person is already communicating - especially if it takes new people a while to "get to know" the person and how he expresses himself.

When / Where should we start working on communication?

Opportunities & Vocabulary for Communicating

It's helpful to determine a few specific situations and words to begin working on communication. Find activities that the person is already participating in, and use them as opportunities to target communication goals. Use the following inventory / checklist to figure out potential communication environments and the vocabulary needed to participate
opp for communicating.JPG

Download a Word or PDF file here.

Factors that Impact Communication

Other factors can impact (interfere OR enhance) a person's communication. Brainstorm as a team to consider why some communicative interactions work better than others. Possible ideas include:


  • Does the person do better talking to certain people? Think about common characteristics.
  • Are favorite partners...?
    • Male vs Female
    • High vs Low-pitched voice
    • Calm vs Excited tone of voice


  • Topic
  • Activity


  • Are certain times of day better for communicating?
  • Maybe the person likes...?
    • Morning vs Afternoon or Day vs Night (When is she alert and active?)
    • Timing around medications (drowsiness side effects)


  • She really seems to "open up" when she's at (place).
    • Small vs Large places
    • Inside vs Outside
  • People can have sensitivities and differences in how they take in and interpret information from their bodies
  • Sight
    • Too much or too little to look at
    • Lights too bright or too dim
  • Sound
    • Quiet vs Loud
    • Environmental Noises (air conditioning or heater running, fluorescent lights flickering)
  • Smell
    • Cleaning chemicals
    • Perfumes or colognes
  • Touch
    • Annoyed by tags on clothing
    • Too soft or too hard of touch
  • Taste
    • Being thirsty or hungry is distracting
  • Balance
    • Inner ear


  • Perhaps they prefer talking about sensitive topics to people the same age, or only want to discuss important things with family.
  • We all prefer to talk about our favorite topics. When people try to communicate about things we're not interested in, we might not be motivated to continue or extend the interaction.

Use this worksheet to look at more factors related to the Environment, Activity, Interpersonal, Partner's Communication Methods, and Personal conditions for communication.
Download a PDF file from Martha Leary here.

  • See the ODP page for more suggestions, from the perspective of Supports Coordinators (case managers). Read about it under "How YOU Can Support Consumers' Communication."

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