Making use of sensory aides      

Non-verbal Communication and Sensory Aides

In addition to verbal communication, there are a variety of other sensory tools that can be used to help a child understand what is happening. 

Tactile aides 

Tactile support, specifically in regard to communication is any kind of touch that is used to convey something, such as a handshake. Being clear on the meaning of these physical/tactile cues will help with consistency of communication.  


Touch can be a primary way of providing a sense of security, building positive relationships, and promoting social and emotional development, especially when no common language exists.   

When a child does not understand verbal instruction, a careful touch to the shoulder can help communicate the meaning of “go ahead” or to change direction.   

To show a child around the room, or the way to the bathroom, it is quite helpful to hold the hand of the child and go together. By using a key word repeatedly and going there together, the child can immediately learn this action as a tool. When expressing a need, or wish for help, the child can then in turn take the educator’s hand to take the educator to the place/item in question.  

When using tactical support with a child, approach them from the furthest point (i.e. fingertips) and allow the child to guide you as to how much physical interaction the child is comfortable with. Always be sure the child is aware before using tactile support with them.    

In Western culture stroking the child over the head or at least touching the head and face is common behavior. In many cultures, touching the head is extremely impolite. To avoid exposing a child to helplessness and being uncomfortable, begin by simply touching the limbs only.