Communication Books

What are communication books?

  • A communication book is usually on A5 sized folder or display book with photos or symbols (colour or black and white line drawings) in it.  It will have a page for each different topic e.g toys, food, colours.  It can have from 1 to 18 (or more) symbols on a page, depending on the ability of the child.
  • They are sometimes called Chat books.

How do they help children?

  • They provide children with a way of getting their message across to lots of people, including familiar people and new people.  Anyone who meets that child will be able to communicate with them, by looking at what the child is pointing to and pointing at the symbols to help the child understand what they are saying.
  • They give a child a way to communicate with others, either to support their speech or as an alternative form of communication.
  • They can help children with a range of difficulties, including those with very little or no speech and those with unclear speech.
  • They help children to understand what others are saying to them, as the people around the child should use the communication book alongside their speech.

How do they work?

  • They can be used at home, socially when out and about (e.g shopping, parties) and at school, anytime the child wants to ‘talk’ about something.
  • They can be built up from having only one or two symbols on a page and a couple of pages in the book, to having lots of symbols on a page and  more pages in the book – depending on the progress made and the changing needs of the child.
  • Activities can be set up to give the child opportunities to become familiar with using their book to communicate (see activities handout).
  • The adults working with the child should use the books alongside their speech to show the child how to use the book, and how to show that pointing to the symbols is a valid and valued way to communicate.
  • The communication book should be kept where the child can easily access it, and should be available in this place at all times.  The child should be taught where this book is kept and encouraged to fetch it when the want to ‘say’ something.
  • The child should be encouraged to use their book in a variety of different settings (e.g. around the school) and with lots of different people to help them become more confident in using it.
  • This book can be added to or changed at any time, depending on the circumstances e.g. the topic being done in class, the time of year the child’s changing interests.  It can be developed as the child becomes more confident in using it, new pages can be added and an index system set up, to help the child find a particular page more easily.  More symbols can be added to each page to give the child more choices of things to say.