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Teaching Prelinguistic Communication

Practice Perspectives - Highlighting Information on Deaf-Blindness Number 5, September 2009

Long before children learn language, they communicate with gestures, vocalizations, facial expressions, and body language. This is known as prelinguistic communication. This issue of Practice Perspectives describes a study of prelinguistic milieu teaching (PMT). The researchers examined how PMT can be adapted to improve the prelinguistic communication of children who are deaf-blind.

Video Examples

The following are very short video examples showing how adapted prelinguistic milieu teaching was used with Lance, the child shown on page 3 of the publication.

This clip shows the routine described on page three of Teaching Prelinguistic Communication. Susan is teaching Lance the "give to partner for help" gesture.

Move Partners' Hand to Item Gesture

In this routine, Lance is learning the gesture "move partner's hand to item." The purpose of this gesture is to ask for something to continue (e.g., "I want more"). Lance loves to have his head scratched and is asking Susan to keep doing it.

Clap Gesture to Show Enjoyment

This clip shows Lance learning to use a “clap” gesture to show pleasure or enjoyment.

Give High Five Gesture

This clip shows Lance learning the "give high five" gesture to use as a greeting.

Extend Hand, Open Palm Gesture

The purpose of the routine shown in this clip is for Lance to learn the “extend hand, open palm” gesture to request an item (e.g., “I want the ___________”).

Isolate Index Finger for Pointing

The main goal of this routine is to teach Lance to isolate his index finger as the first step in learning to use a pointing gesture (e.g., "What is this?" "Look at this!"). This routine is also meant to encourage Lance to use the "extend hand" gesture to request an item (e.g., "I want the ___").

Contact Point Gesture

Here, Lance is learning a "contact point" gesture (point to something by touching it), to make comment (e.g., "Look at this!").