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Purposes of Communication

Updated: Jul 14, 2023

We have many different reasons to communicate. Learning and using a variety of functions for communication is important as it helps us to advocate for ourselves, socialize with others, provide and gain information from others, and even have our wants and needs met. Children with communication disorders or delays benefit from others teaching and modeling these different purposes of communication. Let’s talk about some of the reasons children communicate (this is not an all-inclusive list).

  • Requesting Items and Activities: Children may make requests for a favorite food or toy, to do a specific activity such as blowing bubbles or swimming, to request more of an item, or to request continuance of an activity. Examples include: “want”, “more”, “cookie”, “I want more bubbles”, “watch tv”, etc.

  • Protesting: Children protest many different things such as requesting to have a food item removed or not placed on a plate, protesting a specific color of an item, or wanting music to stop. Examples include: “stop”, “no”, “not”, “don’t”, "bye carrot", and turning away from the activity or item.

  • Requesting Attention: Children seek to gain attention from others for the purpose of social interactions, getting needs/wants met, and even to show off to others. Examples include: tapping on caregiver’s shoulder, hollering for mom/dad, and making a silly face to make a sibling laugh.

  • Commenting: Commenting is important to help keep an interaction or conversation going and to participate socially with others. Examples include: “I see” statements or more descriptive commenting statements such as “funny hat”.

  • Asking Questions: Children ask questions to gain information from others. Examples include: “when lunch”, “where dog”, and “what that”.

  • Express Feelings: Children first learn to express their feelings through crying, screaming, smiling, and etc. Children also learn to later use words to express how they feel such as “I feel mad”, “happy”, and “excited”.

  • Greetings/Farewells: Children learn to start and end a social interaction by providing a greeting and farewell. Examples include: waving, hugging, “hi”, “bye”, and silly greetings such as “after while crocodile”.

  • Sharing about Personal Experience: Children love to share about recent experiences with others. They typically share about events that have had a high impact on them. Examples might include: “doctor…sick”, pointing to a bandaid where they got a shot, “swim in pool”, “go grandma’s house”, etc.

Throughout the month of July, I will be providing ideas for helping to support your child in learning and developing different communicative functions while utilizing specific books, toys, games, and activities. Each week will include ideas to support those who communicate using verbalizations, nonverbal communication (gestures/body language/facial expressions), and Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC). I’d love for you to follow along this month!


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