Tips and Communication Tools

Total Communication

Total communication is the use of all forms of communication in one environment. It is the complementary use of speech, signs and symbols to enable people with learning difficulties to understand and express themselves to their maximum potential.

Total Communication can involve:

  • getting the physical environment right (e.g., background noise and lighting)
  • clear and simple speech to help people focus on keywords
  • the use of gestures, facial expressions, body language and signing
  • the use of pictures, photographs, symbols, objects and written words
  • the use of sensory cues (e.g., touch and smell)
  • opportunities to communicate
  • appropriate integration (e.g., level and pace)
  • vocalisation, intonation, and verbalisation
  • access to modern technology

Using Technology

Linwood School has several eyegaze devices which allow the student to control the computer using their eyes. This technology is ideal for students with impaired motor skills who cannot operate a touch screen or switch system.

Some of our students also use iPads with text/image to speech apps.

Speech & Language Therapy (SALT)

Speech and Language Therapy is a consultancy service with particular emphasis on:

  • Assessment and Diagnosis
  • Advice
  • Training
  • Liaison
  • Provide reports

The SALT team aims to help all adults working with your student to create a Total Communication Environment.

It is important to remember that:

  • Communication happens all day.
  • The best work happens when a child/young person is in familiar surroundings.
  • Students respond best to adults who know them and their routines.
  • Speech and language therapy become a part of everyday life naturally.
  • The team uses this approach to decide on the goals for each student.
  • Goals are shared with the teaching team, who integrate the therapy into the daily routine.


Signalong is a registered charity, that provides resources and training in visual communication based on British Sign Language.

They post videos on their Facebook page of signs in action.

Signalong empowers students with impaired communication skills to understand and express their needs by providing sign vocabulary for life and learning.

At Linwood School, we believe that signing supports the language development of many of our students.

All students and staff are encouraged to learn Signalong – so that we can ALL communicate with one another.

Signalong courses are held regularly for school staff and parents/carers.

Objects of Reference

Objects of Reference is any object which is used systematically to represent an item, activity, place, or person. These objects stand for something in the same way that words do. Understanding real objects is the first stage of symbolic development. Therefore using objects is considered the most concrete way of representing a word.

PECS Picture Exchange Communication System

The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is a way for autistic people to communicate without relying on speech. To communicate, people use cards with pictures, symbols, words or photographs to ask for things, comment on things or answer questions.

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