Function or Intent of Communication
What is the purpose? Is it to share information, direct another's attention, request something, ask or answer a question? There has to be a reason "why" we communicate and why children communicate with us.
Early functions or intent includes:
- Calling or accessing people. Examples: waving, pointing, pressing a beeper, pressing a switch that has a message, calling "Mom", or "come here please."
- Protesting. Examples: throwing a toy, pushing a bowl/plate of food away, having a tantrum, screaming, or kicking.
- Requesting continuation. Examples: Reaching out for something you have just taken away, tapping an object, signing "more", making bouncing or rocking movements to indicate "more rocking horse" or "more trampoline."
- Making a choice. Examples: nodding yes, hitting a switch that says "yes", reaching out to one of two (or more) items, "pointing" with the eyes to indicate preference.
Later developing functions are:
- Social greeting. Examples: Waving "Hi!" or "Bye"; pressing a switch which voices "Hi" or "Bye", signing "hello" and perhaps a "name sign."
- Offering or transferring objects. Examples: handing a toy to someone, exchanging one toy for another, giving another child a cracker.
- Answering questions or replying. Examples: nodding, signing, or saying "yes", "no"; indicating "my turn" by pointing to self or using own name sign.
- Naming or labeling.
- Commenting. Examples: pointing to something that looks like "fun" - a kite that Dad is flying, a cake that Mum just baked that looks and smells "yummy", an unhappy facial expression, closing eyes tight or turning away to indicate "I'm done, even if you're not!"
- Requesting information.