What generally helps when communicating with a person with communication difficulties?
Never hurry the person. Give them plenty of time to get their message across. Listen patiently and try not to finish off their sentences for them
Don’t interrupt the person, or jump in too quickly with a guess about what they are trying to say (unless you know they are happy for this to happen)
Do not pretend to understand the person if you don’t. Say that you are having difficulty and suggest they express their message another way. If you do understand the person, give them plenty of reassurance.
Check that you are understanding the person by re-stating what they have already told you, e.g. ‘so, you are talking about…’ This is also helpful if the person is getting stuck on a certain part of the message they are trying to communicate. Let them know the bits you have understood so they only need to focus on the part that is difficult and not have to repeat the whole message again
Encourage the person to use all available methods of communication, e.g. speech, gesture, drawing, writing, pointing and facial expression.
Ask questions that require a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer – ask ‘do you want a cup of tea/juice/water?’ rather than ‘what do you want to drink?’
Be aware that the person will tire easily. It can be hard work to communicate when you have difficulties. Also be aware that tiredness will affect the person’s ability to communicate.