Summary of Communication Skills


Review information on the child’s specific disability.

Position yourself across from the child.

While some children lip read, only 30% of words can be read accurately.

Position yourself at the child’s level.

Consider letting the child decide where to sit and then get to that level.

Personal space may be different for a child with a disability.

Do not touch the person unless the child initiates the contact.

  - May be “touch toxic”

Eye contact generally helpful, but essential for deaf and hard of hearing children.

  - Forcing a child to look at you could be traumatic if the abuser also did so.

Speak in a normal voice in most cases but not all.

Yelling or speaking extremely loudly may distort words for those lip reading.

Raising your voice (to be sure you are heard or understood) may frighten the child.

Some children who are hard of hearing or have cochlear implants may hear you better if you increase your vocal volume.

Baladerian, N.J., Heisler, C., & Hertica, M. (n.d.) Child abuse victims with disabilities: A curriculum for law enforcement first responders and child protective services frontline workers-participant manual. California: Child abuse and neglect disability outreach program of arc riverside. Retrieved from