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Nonverbal Communication: The Secret to Unlocking Adult Learning

Communication is a core part of human interaction, but not all communication is verbal. Nonverbal communication - the way we express ourselves through body language, facial expressions, gestures, and tone of voice - is a powerful tool that shapes our social interactions. For individuals with learning disabilities, nonverbal communication plays an even more crucial role in communication, as it can be the primary way they communicate with others.

They are also more attune to, and may not always understand ‘normal’ forms of communication.

In this blog post, we will explore the impact of nonverbal communication on the learning process in adults with learning disabilities. We will examine how nonverbal cues can communicate emotional states, how they affect comprehension, and how nonverbal communication can hinder or help adult learners with learning disabilities. By understanding the role of nonverbal communication in learning, we can gain insights into new instructional strategies and techniques to support adult learners with learning disabilities.


Nonverbal communication and emotional states

Nonverbal communication cues can reveal a great deal about a person's emotional state, providing important context for social interactions. In many cases, individuals with learning disabilities may not have the language skills to express their emotions through verbal communication, making nonverbal cues the central tool for conveying their feelings. By paying close attention to the nonverbal cues of learners, educators and trainers can better understand their emotional states, adjust their approach, and support them more effectively.


Nonverbal communication and comprehension

Nonverbal communication also plays a crucial role in the learning process. During instruction, learners engage in a complex process of interpretation, where nonverbal cues can significantly affect their comprehension. For example, if a learner is confused or lost, they may display nonverbal cues that signpost their confusion or disengagement and indicate that additional support is necessary.


Nonverbal communication and instructional techniques

Understanding the role of nonverbal communication can help us develop effective instructional techniques that support adult learners with learning disabilities. By integrating techniques that promote nonverbal communication, such as visual aids, gestures, and facial expressions, into the delivery of learning content, educators can increase the engagement and motivation of learners and offer a more accessible learning experience.


Use of visual aids

Visual aids such as graphs, diagrams, and images augment verbal learning and representation, and thereby open doors to cognitively diverse ways of understanding. In this way, visual aids encompass several aspects of nonverbal communication, including gestural and facial cues, and visual representations of emotions, learning content, and learning strategies. Learners with learning disabilities benefit significantly from visual aids, as they promote understanding and recall without relying solely on auditory skills.


Awareness of your own nonverbal communication

Those communicating also need to be aware of their own tone, body language and facial expressions as well as general demeanor. Adults who rely on nonverbal communication cues can pick up on the subtlest of changes which can affect how they feel about their support or how to react to verbal communication being given.


For adults with learning disabilities, understanding nonverbal communication and incorporating visual aids and other nonverbal techniques can make instruction more accessible and engaging.

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