Do we now need to redefine the term: “communication” And what does it actually mean to do so?


I remember a time when people had to learn how to write with a pen and paper.  There were no computers.  There were no cell phones.  There were rotary phones. Some phone numbers would begin with words like “hunter…”  There was the mailman who does still come and deliver real letters.  There was nothing called e-mail or a fax machine to send paperwork to others. Things moved at a slower pace. The world was much less connected.  Computers and other forms of technology, of course, have changed that……

Can anyone tell me at all what it means to communicate in today’s world?  I’m trying to figure it out because lately, I have gotten so many interpretations. The one sentence answer “speak” is the most often heard answer but is this really the case.???  I’ll be on the subway and say “excuse me” but nobody hears me when I am trying to get off the train.  Earbuds get in the way of hearing speech and fewer people seem to speak.   Another answer to my question was that to communicate is “the ability to interact with others”.  I really like that one!

I sincerely mean that I want to hear your answers to this question because I am wondering if those of us in the industry are truly doing our job.  Are we addressing the needs of the people who may walk in and ask for help?.  If you have trouble communicating it seems to me as if there are many more options available.  What are they?  What’s easiest for you or hardest?

These answers will be especially helpful as I discuss this concept with graduate students in a few weeks.  Can this new generation of future professionals add to this list.? We’ll see.  I think the more traditional concepts we learned in graduate school years ago have broadened.  Below are a few examples from my pediatric clientele from this past week:

  • I asked the parents about their concern-why are they asking me to help their child and what does it mean to communicate?.  Their priority was that one-word response “speech”.  The conversation continues. I ask the parent if there are any other ways that his child may let him know that she wants something and he said that she will show him what she wants by pointing to it. I remind him – “that is a form of communication too..isn’t it?   The dad stopped for a second and says he agrees.
  • Another family visit and the child is learning how to Facetime.  Check it out in my tags.  Now, how old are the children using this app???
  • Another family visit and all of a sudden I hear a noise. “What is that?” I ask because nothing seemed to have provoked the sound. I notice that the child has dad’s i-phone and has looked at the icons. The child discriminated between the icons.  She had located Elmo. The child demonstrated that she understood cause and effect behavior by recognizing that if the icon was tapped with her pointer finger that Elmo would make noise and move. Finally, she was very obviously happy with what had happened.  She ran over and picked up Elmo so that she could play with the doll.

If we want a child to learn to speak, how could this last scenario have been replayed?. If dad’s i-phone had not been present, would the same behavior occur?  Languages are lost if we do not use them



The above chart from the University of Liverpool illustrates the differences between age groups.  We are really are what I would term to be global communicators; in that, we use a variety of communication forms.  That has good and bad sides to it.  The need to be generationally intelligent becomes necessary for all of us if we are going to get along.  Why?  It’s important since the presence of a digital world has made these differences even more pronounced than they ever have been.  The differences are also permanent. Technology is not going away any time soon and is changing every day quite rapidly.

Jean Twenge gives a great deal of insight about the concept I am introducing.  She discusses the differences in how people are living, looking at longitudinal studies that she has conducted. Her latest book documents this:  Sadly, she notes that those who are born in an age of smartphones and the internet are not as happy as a result of the social isolation of many digital natives.  Wouldn’t this now point to the need for increased and easier access to mental health care?

Technology has an impact on mental and physical health as well.  This has had positive as well as negative effects  Only you understand how you individually are being affected or not.   It is interesting to think about and then consider if there are any issues that impact on your life.  How are you communicating with other people? How much technology are you using? What types and how much during the day?  If you are old enough to know a world in which there was no internet how has your life changed?  I would be interested in hearing from readers about your thoughts and for anyone reading this post to consider.  Thanks for your help!

Dr. Andreas Hoff (2012) Generational Intelligence: A Critical Approach to Age Relations By Biggs, S., and Lowenstein, A., Journal of Intergenerational Relationships, 10:3, 304-308, DOI: 10.1080/15350770.2012.698975.  






“He/she is not speaking”…really??

Typically, the first thing I will hear someone tell me when I ask them why they have come to ask for help is “(any name here) can’t speak . They don’t let me know what they want or need.  Help them..Help me/us”.  Is it that communication is limited to words?

The main point of this post is to suggest that we use our whole body to communicate and interact with our surroundings.  Looking at and being able to talk about this is an interesting way to get to know yourself – your strengths and weaknesses in interacting with others and the world around you. Can you describe them?  What could you say about how you yourself do to communicate?  Do you use gestures, words, a combination of these, written communication or forms of technology?  How does the environment affect you. Are there breakdowns in function in any of these areas?  Where if at all are the problems?   Could you create your own list and answer these questions?  It would be interesting to hear your comments about this question.

**Please don’t forget to consider the old fashioned forms of communication such as actually talking on the phone, handwriting a letter or being able to visually face a person and use basic eye contact when speaking with someone.  These to me seem to be going by the wayside,

As a prospective parent or adult who may want my help please consider this from all angles and let me know what you think. Perhaps others such as your doctor, a teacher, a friend, family member or colleague at work can help you gain insight that would be meaningful to share.  If you are a student who may be working towards entry into the profession of speech language pathology, recognize that looking at a person an getting to know you has required that we look more in depth, in a way that we never had to do so before.

If you are a student reading this article, i suggest that you look at the leaders project website link   The questions that Dr Cate Crowley outlines, these critical-questions may be geared for early intervention (zero to age three), but, in my experience they could be modified and applicable to others so that you can get a more cohesive picture of your prospective client and come up with a more complete view of an individual.  Thank you Dr. Crowley for providing this information!   Another good resource is the work of Dr. A. Jean Ayres who writes about sensory integration.

Dr. Virginia Apgar did in 1952, developed that  “Apgar Scale”. “ .  It looks to me as if she saw the beginning need of looking at the whole person.  One of the skills she assesses is respiration or breathing.  She suggested that in assessing breathing – a passing score would be that the newborn was crying.  Her scale reviews muscle tone heart rate, reflexes and skin color. It is not limited to one area and neither should be our thinking about this aspect of life.  Are there aspects of the scale that should be revised?

If you look closely you may see much more about how a person conveys information to others.  If you look closely and give this thought you may realize more than you may have at first about yourself or others around you!











.  Please consider the fact and complete the fiend attached to help me get to know you

“Autistic Wandering” DSM code added 10/11 and an Organization that Can Actually Help

I have been hearing a number of people within the world of social networking talking about this new code and wondering why??? why is this even being presented now.  What will be the  impact of having a new code like this on those with this illness?. These are questions that have been posed by a number of professionals.  Parents reading this post, I wonder what you think..  It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on this.  Maybe it would make you feel better if this code is in place for your child. I am actually glad that it is being listed.  I also became aware of an organization that might help someone who actually does wander and perhaps this would be a helpful resource for readers.

What LifePROTEKT is doing to help people with special needs

Each week thousands of people connect with LifePROTEKT to find out the latest information on wandering prevention, fall detection and location based GPS products. Some just visit to read the posts that are relevant to the communities we represent, and others look at the various products we offer in the personal location based GPS market as shown in our comparison grid.

Over the past year, it has been our pleasure to have donated hundreds of devices to families in need for their at-risk loved ones that may be prone to wandering. We have also donated our safety products to various healthcare organizations, law enforcement agencies, and charitable foundations including Autism Speaks, TacaNOW, Autism Society of America, Mason Allen Medlam Foundation and the National Autism Association to name a few. That does not include the individual personal families we have helped to secure their loved ones in order to rest a little easier at night.

Each month we also run a contest through the Autism Women’s Network which gives one family in need the opportunity to win a personal location device which includes a one year free subscription to protect their loved one with autism. If interested, you can enter your story here:

Along with these achievements we wanted to share some of the very relevent information provided by LifePROTEKT’s strategic partners. Over the next few months, major enhancements and improvements will be released on LifePROTEKT’s “Products That Protect” offerings. You can check them out here:

The advancements of the new products being launched will consist of things like two way calling, 30 day battery life, child predator alerts, bread crumbing, destination alerts, one-click geofencing, SOS Alert, temperature alerts, much more significant cell coverage for increased and faster accuracy in location and the list goes on. This does not even include any software advancements being made on these products. Now add the better cell coverage provided by the carriers, extended battery life and multiple choice offerings of which carrier works best in your area, and the solutions that provides, will assist many loved ones being brought back safely to their families or caregivers. They may even prevent them from wandering off in the first place.

LET’S GO ONE STEP FURTHER. Since LifePROTEKT understands the special needs communities we can recommend the best solution that fits the needs of the individuals that may be at-risk. Our products are the best solutions that are in the personal GPS industry as we work very closely with manufacturers such as Lok8u, Securatrac, AmberAlertGPS, Aerotel, Laipac, Pocketinder, Enfora and others. We take into consideration the sensory issues of an autistic child, the technical ability of the caretaker using smartphone or text messaging technology, we even determine coverage zones prior to providing the right solution that fits the needs of the family. For example, AT&T may not have the same coverage in your area as T-Mobile hence we predetermine the best solution to fit the needs of the family. (Please note that this technology relies on the triangulation of both cell phone and GPS technology).

LifePROTEKT is the ONLY company that offers various solutions that fit the needs of the special needs family and we are always looking at for the best scenario for parents and caregivers.

One More Thing We Offer. For every sale that is put through LifePROTEKT a portion of the proceeds is donated back to the autism and Alzheimer’s community. We do care about the communities we represent and make this pledge to help in spreading the awareness of at-risk individuals that may wander.

Finally. We are working very closely with healthcare organizations to help reduce the costs of these devices by covering them through various healthcare insurance programs. We have been lobbying for Center of Disease Control’s ICD-9 coverage to help more families where a wandering loved one may be a concern. CDC’s ICD-9 would provide insurance reimbursement for LifePROTEKT devices. This would be similar to the way a doctor would prescribe a glucometer for a diabetic. In this case, the doctor would prescribe a wandering prevention device for an at-risk individual to be covered by the family healthcare provider.

We ask you to share our website with others and help us promote solutions that have the potential to save many lives as we provide a small piece of technology that gives a great peace of mind!

We also request your help the Mason Medlam Foundation by signing the petition for Mason Alert. This will help so many families that have special needs individuals potentially save their loved ones from the same situation that had happened to Mason Medlam some short weeks ago. May God bless the Medlam family for their compassion and committment to preventing another tragedy from occurring due to wandering.

Sign and pass along the petition here:

LifePROTEKT uses the latest Location Based GPS devices and wandering prevention technologies to help find and care for those that can easily get lost or want to live independent lives.




Update – The New School Year – Helping Your Child

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Has Therapy Started?

This is something to confirm right now. You probably assume that your child’s individualized educational plan or invidualized education planis at school.  Maybe not.   Let me be clear – i am not trying to put anybody down – but sometimes there gets to be so much paperwork that these and other  important documents can get misplaced.   If you did not have a chance to bring it down in person; as i discussed last month, please check.  Know that it may take a month to six weeks, depending on the school, to actually start servicing your child on a regular basis because of the fact that schedules take a little bit of time to get put together. New children’s names flow into the hands of therapists all year long.

Is Your Child’s Teacher Informed?

Just because an IEP or an IFSP has been received does not mean that your teacher knows about it.  If you can set up an individual meeting with your teacher now – that would be of tremendous help to BOTH the teacher and your child.  Knowledge is power – so if your teacher understands the type of problem that your child has, he or she will be more likely to be able to work with you.  For example, if she or he needs a hearing aid – or another type of amplification system to use in the classroom at school then they can check that it is there in the morning. 

Informational Hand Outs Related to Disabilities:

These are available and you should come with them to a meeting that you have with your teacher – at a parent-teacher conference.  Try and get some that are specific to your child.  Provide them for and discuss your individual situation with your child’s teacher. (amerrican speech-language hearing association occupational therapy association) physical therapy association) cerebral palsy) (children and adults with add/adhd)

These are a few organizations that may be able to help you locate information about your particular child’s disability.  They may actually have age appropriate material so that you can start a dialogue with your child about their special needs and then have them become advocates for what they need at school!  These organizations may have support groups for families too.  Don’t forget your pediatrician, the school nurse, the special education supervisor and the therapist who treats your child at school.