Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Communication Matrix and Seven Levels of Communication

The Communication Matrix describes seven levels of communication:
  1. Pre-intentional Behavior
    1. the behavior is not under the individuals control
    2. the behavior is not intentional for communication 
    3. the behavior reflects the state of the individual, 
    4. the behavior is not yet differentiated
    5. interpretation of the behavior is dependant on the communication partner
    6. example - crying may mean hungry, uncomfortable or tired
    7. in typical development this occurs from 0-3 months
  2. Intentional Behavior
    1. the behavior is under the individuals control
    2. the behavior is intentional for communication
    3. caregivers continue to interpret behavior
    4. example - differentiated vocalization meaning hunger
    5. in typical development this occurs from 3-8 months
  3. Unconventional Pre-Symbolic Communication
    1. behavior is under the indivduals control
    2. the behavior is intentional for communication
    3. the behavior is non-symbolic
    4. the behavior is not "socially acceptable" as we grow older
    5. example - tugging someone to the location of a desired item
    6. in typical development this occurs from 6-12 months
  4. Conventional Pre-Symbolic Communication
    1. behavior is under individuals control
    2. behavior is intentional for communication
    3. the behavior is non-symbolic
    4. the behavior is "socially acceptable" as we grow older and we continue to use them
    5. the behavior may be related to culture (shaking head for no)
    6. example - pointing to a desired object or waving "bye-bye"
    7. in typical development occurs between 12-18 months
  5. Concrete Symbols
    1. concrete symbols look, feel or sound like the thing they represent (parts of items, miniature items, photos, line drawings)
    2. example - patting chair to mean sit down or using a picture of a shoe to mean shoe
    3. this stage is con-current with conventional pre-symbolic communication and language based communication in typical development between 12-24 months (not usually a separate step in communication development)
  6. Abstract Symbols
    1. symbols are not related to the meaning for the symbol (i.e. picture symbol for want, most spoken words, printed words, sign language words that do not resemble the action/item)
    2. symbols are used one at a time
    3. in typical development this occurs from 12-24 months
  7. Language
    1. symbols both concrete and abstract are used in combination to express an idea or thought
    2. combination of symbols follows grammatical rules
    3. individual understands symbol order impacts meaning
    4. in typical development this occurs from 24 months and older
Each of these seven levels calls for different teaching interventions and methods to facilitate learning in our students.  We know that all of these levels of communication have two basic meanings - to obtain or to avoid (aka to get or to get away).  Within those two basic meaning we can desire to obtain or avoid attention, tangible items and/or sensory experiences, which brings us to six basic things to communicate.  Our job is to meet our students where they are at in this six basic communicative purposes and to us shaping to bring that current means of communicating to the next level.

This means we might play simple contingency games, i.e. spinning a favorite toy and waiting for an indication of pleasure (smile/laugh) before repeating the action, thus reinforcing that this non-symbolic communication.  It might also mean requiring a different student say or use a method of AAC to say a full sentence, "I want more, please" before we repeat the same action, this time reinforcing language.

If we understand where our students are, where we would like them to go and how to embed appropriate communication instruction strategies into every moment of the day our students will become better communicators.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments and respectful discussion are welcome and encouraged! No advertisements or spamming.

Post a Comment

Contact Me at:

Contact Me at:

Visit our advertisers:

Fujitsu Computer Systems Corporation SpinLife.com, LLC Try Nick Jr. Boost FREE for 7 Days LabelDaddy.com ... Label the things you love !! Build-A-Bear HearthSong - Toys Outlet