6 Examples of Non-Verbal Communication You Should Know
The ability to communicate is what connects us with the world around us. Being able to ask for help, express our thoughts and desires, and to initiate play and conversation are all great reasons to communicate with one another. But have you ever considered what it would be like to communicate solely through the use of non-verbal communication?
While there are plenty of familiar examples of non-verbal communication, like waving to a friend across the street or pointing to something you’d like from the restaurant menu, there’s other examples that may surprise you.
In this article, we’re going to share examples of non-verbal communication that we as Speech Therapists can work with clients to establish and improve. Let’s get to it!
A Brief Overview of AAC
Before we get started, here’s a brief overview of AAC. If this is the first time you’ve come across the term, AAC is an acronym for Augmentative and Alternative Communication. It’s a group of non-verbal communication options that allow individuals who cannot talk or can be difficult to understand.
According to recent estimates by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), there are well over 2 million people making use of AAC in their daily lives. AAC can help individuals with autism and can even assist with developing spoken communication.
There are two main types of AAC: unaided and aided. Unaided AAC systems use hand signs and gestures. Hand signing, such as Key Word Sign, is a form of sign language that can be used to assist with speech. Aided AAC systems can be low or high-tech, such as a PODD book or digital picture/word system.
6 Examples of Non-Verbal Communication
#1: Sign Language
Sign language is a non-verbal language that is based on visual cues through the hands, eyes, face, mouth, and body. The gestures or symbols that make up sign language are organised in a linguistic manner.
If you ever see someone using Sign Language, you’ll notice the rich combination of hand gestures, body language, facial expressions, timing, and touch that allow the person to communicate their thoughts or ideas without the use of verbal speech. It truly is an incredible example of non-verbal communication!
As mentioned earlier, Key Word Sign is a form of sign language that can be used to assist with speech. There are also national sign language variations, such as AUSLAN – Australian Sign Language. You can learn more about the different forms of sign language here.
Outside of sign language, there are other examples of non-verbal communication that involve movement of the hands. You’ve probably communicated non-verbally in this way in the last month without even noticing it!
Waving to a friend, pointing to a restaurant menu item, and indicating how many apples you want by holding up three fingers are all examples of gestural non-verbal communication. Other types of gestures that you may recognise are the ‘ok’ hand gesture, the ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’, or putting your finger to your mouth to tell someone to be quiet.
Gestures are a useful communication tool to have at your disposal, and they’re a great example of non-verbal communication that you can look out for in your favourite TV shows and movies!
#3: Written Words
Writing is an example of non-verbal communication that can allow us to express complex thoughts, requests, and ideas. The written word can also be helpful when communicating between two people. As an example, you may see someone write down two options on a piece of paper and the other person will point to which option they’d prefer. That’s how the written word and gestures can be used together to form a rich non-verbal discussion.
#4: Electronic Devices
As a team of Speech Therapists, we know how powerful it can be when someone gets access to an Electric Device that supports their ability to communicate with others.
This example of non-verbal communication is best described as a form of Aided AAC. As it’s an Electronic Device specifically, this would make it a high-tech option.
Some of the Electronic Devices that fall into this category can be used by tapping on pictures/symbols on a screen, whereas others can be controlled through the use of an eye gaze tracking set-up for those who have limited muscular control due to disability or injury.
#5: Pragmatic Organisation Dynamic Display Books
Another great example of non-verbal communication is the Pragmatic Organisation Dynamic Display book. Otherwise known as a PODD book, this symbol/word book is tailored to the individual who uses it.
PODD is a way of organising whole-word and symbol vocabulary in a communication book or speech generating device to support expression and understanding of language for people with complex communication needs.
At SpeechEase we work with our clients to develop, order, and get familiar with the use of their PODD book for non-verbal communication. It’s a great option for those who have complex communication needs, including those with non-verbal autism.
#6: Facial Expressions
Smiling, raising your eyebrows, and furrowing your brow are all examples of facial expressions that can communicate a lot about the way you are feeling in the moment.
There are also a variety of contexts in which facial expressions play an important role in non-verbal communication. From responding to situations and conversations we find ourselves in, to particular linguistic constructions within sign language, facial expressions can often speak louder than words!
So, how did you go with our six examples of non-verbal communication? We hope you found this article interesting and valuable. If you or someone you love needs assistance in finding a suitable non-verbal communication option, get in touch with our friendly team today.