February 14, 2022

Communication Misconception

They’re “non-verbal!”

This misconception is something many parents might say about their own child’s ability to communicate. Professionals, too, also describe some individuals as “non-verbal.”

Is this clinically or ethically appropriate? Skinner defined verbal behavior as having a speaker and listener, and not necessarily anything about being able to produce vocal speech. Therefore, modalities such as sign language, gestures, or even behaviors can be viewed as “verbal behavior”. Perhaps, the more appropriate word is "non-vocal."

Discuss with your mentee how this perspective might be beneficial for parents and professionals alike, does it serve any clinical benefit to the community? Also discuss their perspective (and yours) in regard to the topic.

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