Communication Skills Training

Effective communication with people with Learning Disabilities

Improving and developing ways in which to communicate effectively and meaningfully with adults with learning disabilities and autism.

This training is suitable for support staff and carers who are working with people who are mostly non-verbal and who find it difficult to communicate their needs.  Those who have profound and multiple learning disabilities and those who are on the autistic spectrum.

In order to offer a truly person-centred service to people with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) and those with autism, staff and carers need to be able to build relationships in order to understand the person and to find ways of communicating with them.

This training course is designed to provide ongoing teaching and support in what is a very specialised and potentially challenging means of communication.

Participants will learn and develop the following:

  • The importance of building relationships with people with PMLD and autism in order to communicate
  • Skills specific to communicating with people with PMLD and autism
  • Understanding the use of empathy as a tool for understanding the needs of service users
  • Managing expectations and having realistic goals
  • Ways to support oneself and other members of staff when practising these methods

I have experience of using the above skills for 13 years, working with members of staff in dance movement psychotherapy groups to improve interpersonal interaction and teaching on MA, Dance Movement Psychotherapy University courses.  I also supervise dance movement psychotherapists and healthcare professionals in this area.

Since I began working with people with learning disabilities, I have been interested in the importance of the interactions between staff and participants.  I chose to write about my experiences in the chapter: Finding a place of collaboration, co-created by clients, staff and therapist’ in ‘Dance Movement Psychotherapy with People with Learning Disabilities, Out of the Shadows, into the Light’. Based on my experience of working with people with learning disabilities and autism as a dance movement psychotherapist where self-expression, communication and acknowledgment of the person are key.  I have witnessed how people with learning disabilities are overlooked and how many people believe that being learning disabled means that they do not have the same feelings and responses as non-learning disabled people.  As a result, people with learning disabilities shrink and hide themselves and they are not seen as individual personalities who have something to communicate.

There is a difference between using non-verbal communication and attempting to engage the person in worthwhile and meaningful communication.  The latter involves having willingness and curiosity to get to know the person. Learning and trying out different ways of reaching the person and building a relationship. This is something which I am passionate about and is what led to my co-editing of the book ‘Dance Movement Psychotherapy with People with Learning Disabilities, Out of the shadows, into the light’ (2017, Routledge.  Editors: G Unkovich, C Butté, J Butler).

Contact me to discuss how this training could benefit your organization.