Learning Disability Awareness Week – Communication is crucial

Communication is crucial: Why Certitude is training its support workers in new communication techniques

Certitude provides support to adults with a wide range of learning disabilities and while many people with learning disabilities have strong communication skills, others with more profound disabilities may be unable to speak or sign and can seem unwilling to engage with the outside world. Communicating with individuals in these circumstances can be challenging, however Certitude is investing in techniques which are proving extremely successful.

Director of Development for Certitude, Marianne Selby Boothroyd says:

“We pride ourselves on being a person-centred organisation which tailors support to the needs and wants of the individual, but we are aware that in some cases we don’t really know what an individual wants from their life.

Good communication only begins when you understand each other and creative communication is about making sure that we are fluent in all the different kinds of communication techniques available to ensure we connect. These forms of communication can be life changing and we are committed to training as many support workers as possible over the next three years so that we can embed these simple yet incredibly successful techniques right across the organisation.”

Intensive Interaction is a technique which encourages the individual trying to communicate, to recognise clues from the person they are trying to communicate with. There are many techniques which can be applied from mimicking and mirroring to maintaining eye contact and touching. The training teaches individuals how to read the signs correctly and how to progress the communication to the next stage.

Creative Communication Training Case Study

Rabia with Lucy Harrison
Rabia with Lucy Harrison

Until recently, Zani, a young woman with Autism, had remained closed in and shut off from the other people in her house. After 12 months of intensive interaction Zani has made a significant breakthrough and is now happy to make eye contact, touch, laugh and play with her support worker Rabia. Zani is more content in her life and her family and friends are delighted to see how she has progressed.

Rabia is one of many Certitude support workers learning about “Creative Communication”. This is a method which encourages people to communicate in ways other than talking. She says the idea of emotionally engaging with someone without speech was a daunting prospect at first but that once she was trained in some of the techniques the results have been amazing.