They say a picture is worth a thousand words. For a person with a communication difficulty, this may be more true than ever.
Why not words?
Understanding words and understanding pictures use very different parts of the brain. When someone speaks to us, the language processing parts of our brain begin an automatic, complex process to understand what we are hearing. Some people may experience an interruption in this process, making it very difficult to turn spoken words into a meaningful message.
Making sense of visual information is an entirely different process in the brain, and a skill that we begin refining from the moment we are born. Just think about how much information you can understand from a TV show even after someone has pressed ‘mute’. The same goes for photos, drawings, symbols and signs that we see and interpret hundreds of times a day before we even realising we are doing it.
How powerful are we talking?
For people with a communication difficulty, pictures can provide an accessible and effective way of sharing information with the people around them. In fact, some people choose to create an entire communication system using pictures and carry this with them wherever they go.
Communication takes place all around us every day and consists of so much more than words. For a lot people, the power of pictures should not be underestimated.
Speech pathologists are trained to assess, design and implement picture-based communication systems based on an individual’s specific communication needs.