Getting started with telehealth for early intervention: Learning modules

Why do children communicate

Children communicate to express many different things, including to:

To indicate one’s wants and needs, such as a child indicating that they want to watch a specific show or that they want a parent’s help or attention.

A type of request to reject or indicate that a child wants something to stop or end, such as saying “no.”

To share information or draw someone’s attention to something or an event, such as pointing to a bird in a tree or saying “yumm” while eating a tasty treat.

Sharing attention between another person and an object or event, such as a child seeing a clown making silly faces and shifting gaze back to their parent to see if they are watching and gesturing at the clown or smiling and then looking back to the clown.

This includes when your child begins communicating to you, such as coming to find you to show and bringing you by the hand into the kitchen.

This includes when your child is responding to an initiation by someone else, such as answering a question or responding to a comment by someone else.

This includes when there is a breakdown in communication, either your child does not understand what someone else communicated or someone does not understand what your child communicated.

Communication repair refers to how your child goes about getting clarification or communicating in a different way to get their point across.

Your provider will assess across different ways that your child is communicating these kinds of things and will use this information to plan an individualized intervention. If your child also receives services from a Speech Language Pathologist, this is a good time for your different providers to connect and coordinate across these different types of communication.


Brady, N. C., Steeples, T., & Fleming, K. (2005). Effects of prelinguistic communication levels on initiation and repair of communication in children with disabilities. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research.

Julien, H. M., Finestack, L. H., & Reichle, J. (2019). Requests for Communication Repair Produced by Typically Developing Preschool-Age Children. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research62, 1823-1838.

Jones, E. A., & Carr, E. G. (2004). Joint attention in children with autism: Theory and intervention. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities19, 13-26.