Communication Policy


Sylvan Adventure’s aim is to connect people to nature through adventure and first hand experiences. This is to create meaningful relationship with nature, whilst undertaking a personal growth journey and developing an understanding of the natural environment and its associated wildlife.
We are an inclusive organisation, who wants everyone to be able to access and enjoy nature. To fulfil this we offer a bespoke service, were we are able to design and organise one of sessions, programmes and projects to not only cater for individual or group interests and passions. We also cater for individual learning styles and abilities etc.
We are aware everybody is an individual and has different circumstances and history etc, this can include communication, social interactions and understanding. This is why Sylvan Adventures has adopted a “Total Communication” approach, with staff being trained in using Makaton, Sign Supported English, P.E.C.S, as well as Autism and Dementia.
Total Communication
1. Total Communication with Sylvan Adventures currently encompasses facial expressions, eye
pointing, gesture and body language, vocal sounds and speech, Makaton signs and symbols,
Symbol Exchange, objects of reference.
These communication aids are relevant to the needs of the individuals at our sessions or projects and will be reviewed and extended as and when appropriate.
2. Equal opportunities are an integral part of Total Communication with Sylvan Adventures and
issues of gender, cultural belief and access will be addressed whilst planning and as part of

1. The main aim of Total Communication contributes to the whole aim to provide
opportunities for all people to develop a better knowledge and understanding of the natural world .
2. Within the sessions, we aim to create an environment that both fosters and is responsive to each individual’s communication needs and skills

3. We aim to provide communication aids and experiences, particular to the needs of each individual as need.
4. Opportunities for Total Communication will be available through all areas of the .session.
5. To enable each individual to indicate their wants and needs.
6. To provide opportunities to influence what happens to them in their environment by making choices and indicating preferences.

7. To provide opportunities for social interaction through enabling individuals to communicate and interact with their peers and adults within their environment.

8. To learn new concepts and ideas.

Communication is vital to human development. It takes place when one person imparts information to another, whether or not this is a conscious attempt to do so; and another person receives and responds accordingly to this communication. It is generally agreed that communication can take place in any of the sensory domains. This usually involves vocalising, speaking, signing, listening, looking, moving and experiencing through touch. Early communication has several phases of development, although the phases may overlap or be inconsistent.

1. Non-intentional communication – vocally, this may take the form of crying in response to a personal need. Gestural, this may be expressed through body movement or facial expression and tactually through touching objects or people.

2. Intentional communication – this develops with the realisation that vocalisations, gestures, movements etc can be used to gain attention and have an effect on others.

3. Symbolic communication – knowing that one thing can represent another. This occurs with the realisation that a specific sound, gesture or symbol is associated with a person or object.

4. Formal communication – vocally, this will mean the use of words and sentences, leading on to reading and writing skills. Gesturally, this may take place through use of Makaton signs and symbols. The corresponding stage in tactual communication would be the use of Braille or Moon letters and symbols.

Communication strategies for Individuals with communication needs.

Individuals with learning difficulties have unique communication needs. “The ability to control what happens to us and to understand that what we do affects other, is essential for the emotional and social development of us all” (L MacWilliam). For a child with multiple learning difficulties, understanding may be further delayed by a combination of lack of sensory input and poor communication skills. From the preceding section on the development of communication, it can be seen that early adult/child interactions at the pre-intentional stage, are very important. Multiply disabled pupils, in particular, will be very dependent on the skill of familiar adults to observe and interpret their attempts to communicate. This will include awareness of stilling, facial and body movements or vocalisations. When the adult reacts, imitating and responding consistently to these signals, the child becomes aware that their signals convey meaning. Eventually, they may start using them to communicate preferences and make choices. Through identifying the preferences and dislikes of individuals, adults in a child’s environment are able to promote strong responses from pupils, making it easier to develop intentional communication. Vocalisations, expressions and movements commonly used by individuals can be noted so that a series of known communications can be built up and transferred to different situations. Communication enables the pupil to be aware of his/her independence and of being able to influence his/her environment.


3. Objects of Reference

“Objects of Reference” are objects which have special meanings assigned to them. They stand for something in much the same way as words do, whether spoken, written or signed” (Objects of Reference – A Ockelfield). For example, a cup may indicate drinks time or a spoon indicates lunchtime.

Objects of reference can represent people, places, actions and times and can be used to enable individuals to gain some understanding and control over their environment. The may also be given a multistory element as they can be chosen to give visual, auditory, tactile and olfactory clues. When a consistent object is presented immediately before an activity or event, an association between the object and the consequent event is developed, which, in turn, encourages anticipation
skills. Anticipation and recognition of familiar routines and ability to make wishes known through pointing to a particular object are vital stages in communication.

To ensure consistency across the school, a list of Objects of Reference has been agreed upon amongst staff representatives from the Total Communication Group. Within this framework, individual needs and abilities are also taken into account and relevant.

4. Makaton Signs and Symbols

At Sylvan Adventures, Makaton sign language and symbols are used as an aid to communication. Individuals are encouraged to make a particular sign to indicate a specific need, object etc. Alternatively, or at the same time, the Makaton symbol is shown which enables the Individual to build up Makaton signs and symbols are always used with speech and frequently play a part in the development of language. Use of these also enables the pupil with little or no vocal responses to communicate with those around him. Understanding and use of Makaton signs and symbols may be developed where appropriate to provide a sequence of symbols, which can be used to encourage sentence construction. They may be used as part of a pre-reading programme.
5. Symbol Exchange Communication System

This communication system was originally designed for use with autistic children but is now used with individuals with a wide range of communicative disorders, many of whom show little previous desire or ability to communicate. The method of teaching is very specific and is based on behavioural teaching techniques. The child learns from the very beginning to initiate communicate through exchanging a symbol to receive something which they personally desire and find rewarding. This is developed to include discrimination of symbols, then the use of two or more symbols to create short phrases or sentences.

6. MyChoicePad App on IPad.

We had installed the MyChoicePad app on our IPad, which can be available to be used by individuals and groups if the need arises.
Useful Organisations

There are a range of organisations and charities with specific aims and objectives of either supporting, providing advice and guidance on language development, communication difficulties, sign language and strategies. In the resource section of Sylvan Adventures website, there is a section on communication and sign language with links to the several organisations and their You Tube channels e.g.:

The Makaton Charity.
The Communication Trust.
ICan Trust.
The Royal College of Speech and language Therapists.