Autism and Overcoming Barriers to Communication

Unit 501 – use and develop systems that promote communication

Learning outcome

  • Be able to address the range of communication requirements in own role
  • Review the range of groups and individuals whose communication needs must be addressed in own job role

Individuals who have communication problems need support to enable them to express themselves effectively. Therefore it is vitally important in a managerial or senior role to both be aware of the individuals preferred method of communication and also to support this method effectively.

Communication is a basic human right highlighted in the human rights act 1998 where it states that all individuals have the right to ‘freedom of expression’ therefore it is each person’s right to communicate their needs and preferences using their chosen method.

If an individual were unable to communicate effectively or were denied the support to do so then they would essentially be denied their freedom of expression and would be withholding a basic human need and right. In residential child care there are a number of groups of people which communication may present challenges.

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Although they are presented as groups for the purpose of this learning outcome, each person should be treated as an individual and their communication needs assessed and addressed accordingly. As communication is a reciprocal process around 80% of communication is non-verbal which includes facial expression, posture and eye contact as well as the spoken word.


Individuals with autism have communication disorders which can make it difficult to communicate and interact with their environment. For example echolalia, which is repeating words spoken to them without knowing or understanding them, using phrases out of context and misreading others non-verbal cues.

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Also, lack of eye contact and limited ability to initiate and sustain interactions due to a limited concentration span.

Learning disabilities

A vast percentage of individuals with a learning disability have some form of specific communication need and can be affected on a scale from mild to severe.

Emotional and behavioural difficulties (EBD)

People who have EBD may not present with any noticeable communication difficulties per se but certain tones, volume or non-verbal actions may act as a barrier to communication and should be noted as a particular action could act as a trigger and potentially cause emotional distress.

Explain how to support effective communication within own job role

In a managerial or senior role it is imperative to support and promote effective communication within the workplace both with the service users and the staff. This is established through firstly assessing the needs and then providing the appropriate support which would meet those needs and overcome any potential barriers to effective communication, thus promoting the individuals rights to freedom of expression.

Before one can offer support an assessment would be made regarding their preference and choice and their baseline by observing the ways in which the individual communicates and the methods used. Everyone involved in the individuals care is made aware of the individual’s baseline and needs and preferences regarding communication and any changes are recognised during reviews and team meetings to ensure the individual’s needs are met. Key people involved with the individual may need to work using a joined up process to access information and support to ensure you get the best out of an individual’s communication abilities. These would include family, friends, therapists, school staff as well as the care and management staff. Effective communication improves the quality of life of people.

It is essential that every effort is made to enhance communication, make time to listen and to understand empathically the individual’s perspective. To ensure this is adopted and promoted on an organisational level, adequate training and supervision must be undertaken. From an individual level, positive role modelling and an open culture are to be used to enable effective communication and minimise potential barriers.

Analyse the barriers and challenges to communication within own job role

Communication is a fundamental relationship building skill in the workplace. If people don’t communicate well they limit their ability to connect on any meaningful level and therefore potentially cause conflict. Also with a senior or managerial role in the workplace people will have expectations of how they should communicate with others. The general social care council’s code of practice states that communications should be conducted in an appropriate, open, accurate and straightforward way.

By communicating in this way others will have trust and confidence in you and your abilities. Workplace relationships become a lot stronger when people can clearly and effectively communicate what they need and allow others to do the same. There are many potential barriers to effective communication. Anything which blocks the meaning of a communication is a barrier and they are as follows: Language difference – this could be the choice of words used such as professional jargon or a report or explanation which is worded in a way in which the meaning is lost. Physical barriers – these are due to the physical environment such as noise level or distraction, inappropriate temperature, inappropriate lighting or also your positioning while communicating for example standing too close and invading personal space.

Equally, positioned too far away would also act as a barrier. Psychological barriers – personal problems or issues can lead to a lack of concentration or engagement. Stereotyping – when on individual had a preconception about another individual, it makes it difficult for one to view the others communication without prejudice.

Implement a strategy to overcome communication barriers

Regarding the young people I work with it was deemed appropriate to promote an effective communication platform for them to share their views and opinions on the running of the home, any changes they would like to make and to play an active role in planning the week ahead. This meeting agenda was a direct result of poor engagement from the young people and therefore not fully embracing their own personal preferences and choice in their lives. The new agenda format gives the young people the opportunity to have significant input via an informal platform as the formal approach was seen as a significant barrier to participation in the past. Also the opportunity to confidentially highlight concerns through their own personal agenda (placed in their draw each Monday morning) breaks down the physical barrier of having to raise it amongst their peers without feeling embarrassment or uncomfortable.

While engaging in this meeting it is the responsibility of the staff to ensure the lighting is of an adequate level and the temperature is comfortable. More importantly it is their responsibility to ensure the young people have their say and open and honest communication is adopted and supported in an appropriate manor.

Use different means of communication to meet different needs

There are many different means of communication which may include one or more of the following:

  • Verbal – communication is a two way process and it is important when communicating to listen as well as speak. In a senior or managerial role it is vitally important to adapt communications depending on who you are communicating with. For example you would communicate differently with a service user, a psychologist and a member of care staff. These would differ in the formality of the conversation and in the language or professional terminology used.
  • Non – verbal – more than 90% of what we communicate is through non-verbal communication. This is demonstrated through our body language – our posture, how we stand, hand movements, facial expression and eye contact. Body language plays such an important role in communicating effectively as things like smiling and nodding seem like insignificant gestures but in reality they play such an important role in communicating by highlighting the interest in what is being said. Sign – this is commonly the use of sign and symbols. It requires training to effectively communicate with the intended audience. BSL is the use of signs and symbols as a communication aid to those with hearing loss. Makaton is used as an aid to support speech but not to replace it.

Cite this page

Autism and Overcoming Barriers to Communication. (2016, Mar 27). Retrieved from

Autism and Overcoming Barriers to Communication

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