Carmen’s top communication tips

Did you know that 1 in 500 people have a communication difficulty?

Did you know that 1 in 7 Australians will have a communication difficulty at some stage in their life?

Imagine being ignored by people because they don’t understand what you have said. Imagine how isolated you would feel with communication barriers. Do you feel confident that your friends and family would know how to best support you?

For Scope community educator Carmen De Bono, this is her everyday reality. Carmen has Cerebral Palsy which affects her movement, muscle control
and speech.

Disability educator Carmen De Bono

Carmen knows her speech can sometimes be difficult to understand. “Sometimes people treat me differently because of my speech. People avoid me. Sometimes I feel like I am invisible.”

Carmen also offered us her top tips when interacting with someone with a communication difficulty.

“The worst thing is when people pretend to understand me. Be patient. Conversation make take me a bit longer. Ask me to repeat myself. I don’t mind repeating myself several times. Communication is how we connect as people
and it makes us feel valued.”

The most important things to remember when interacting with someone with a speech difficulty:

  • Relax, be patient, and recognise that an interaction may take a bit longer. The person is aware that they have a speech difficulty.
  • Be honest. Let the person know if you have not understood what they have said. It might help to ask the person to repeat themselves or if they use a communication aid.
    You could also ask them to use a different word, write something down or even point to something.
  • Direct your conversation to the person, not to anyone else
  • Check back with the person when you think you have the message, to make sure that you have understood correctly.
  • Never pretend to understand what the person has said. The person will appreciate your honesty.

For more information around disability and communication awareness check out Scope’s new e-learning module.