Although we often begin to recognise the value of communication as we mature, Jacqui explains that we learn that value from our very first days on Earth.
“One of the first things that a child begins to realise as they grow is that they can do something to change their environment,” Jacqui says. “That’s one of the fundamental things that children have to learn, cognitively.”
Jacqui says when a baby begins to realise that their mother comes when they make noise or cry, they realise that they can have a form of control over their environment through the noises they make. As that child grows and their needs and wants become more complicated, their communication abilities need to grow as well.
“They can’t just be consoled by calling Mum anymore,” Jacqui says. “Now they want to tell Mum that they don’t want strawberry milk, they want banana milk. Then they go to day care and they have to learn how to navigate a shared environment. How do they call attention to themselves when they’re amongst all these other children? How do they show joy or show when they’re upset and have others understand why?
“Then they get older and need to demonstrate their learning and their comprehension in school. They want to make friends and do well with their education. Then they want to find work, maybe find a partner. To do this, they have to know how to communicate, how to negotiate, how to understand others.”
Speech pathologists help children to navigate these necessary means of communication through understanding how these methods work.
“As speech pathologists, we need a certain level of creativity and adaptability to identify which skills need to be addressed for each client and thinking of activities to target those skills,” Jacqui says. “And those activities and the complexity of each activity change as children grow.”
“The need for communication is there right from the beginning of life but it becomes more important as a child grows.”
Dr Jacqueline Lim
If kids are taught effective communication skills from a young age and given support to access the tools of communication, they can reach their full potential at each stage of life.