Enhancing Pediatric Care: The Role of Communication Boards in Clinics

In pediatric healthcare settings, creating an inclusive environment is crucial. Communication boards in clinic waiting rooms can significantly enhance the experience for children with communication challenges. These tools help young patients express themselves, interact socially, and prepare for medical visits, making the clinic a more welcoming place for everyone. This blog explores the transformative impact of communication boards in pediatric clinics, emphasizing their role in fostering accessibility, reducing anxiety, and promoting inclusivity.

The Importance of Communication Boards in Pediatric Clinics

As a speech language pathologist, I have seen firsthand how important it is for healthcare facilities, particularly pediatric clinics, to create inclusive environments for their patients. This includes providing access to tools and resources that can help children with communication difficulties interact with their caregivers, healthcare providers, and other children. One such tool that can greatly benefit children with speech and language challenges is a communication board.

A communication board is a visual tool that can be used by non-speaking children to communicate. It can also be used to help children with limited speech and language skills communicate with others. It typically consists of a series of images that represent common words, phrases, and activities. Children can point to these symbols to express their wants, needs, and feelings, even if they are unable to articulate them verbally. The selection of which images appear on each board depend on a series of factors.  In the case of fixed shared use boards, the location of where the board will be place is one of those factors.

Lake Ray Hubbard Pediatrics Communication Board

Creating Comfort and Confidence in Clinic Waiting Rooms

In pediatric clinics, waiting rooms can be particularly stressful for children and their families. All children have experiences feeling anxious before a visit to their pediatrician. After all, that’s where we go to get shots, get pocked on our noses and mouths. Children with communication difficulties may feel overwhelmed and frustrated by the sensory stimulation, unfamiliar surroundings, and lack of structure in waiting areas. Adding a communication board to the waiting room can provide a sense of comfort and control for these children, helping them feel more at ease and able to participate in activities with their peers.


Promoting Inclusion and Preparation Through Communication

Enhancing Accessibility in Pediatric Waiting Rooms

Accessibility for Children with Different Communication Needs or Communication Difficulties Discuss how communication boards cater to various communication needs. Highlight how they assist non-speaking children, those with language disorders, or those still developing their vocabulary. Stress the role of communication boards in making clinical environments more inclusive, thereby empowering all children to express themselves effectively.

Fostering Social Interaction and Confidence

Encourages Communication and Social Interaction Explain how communication boards transform waiting times into opportunities for interaction and learning. Describe how these boards encourage children to start conversations, participate in group activities, and build social skills by interacting with peers and caregivers in the waiting room.

Reducing Anxiety and Enhancing Comfort

Provides a Sense of Control and Comfort Address how communication boards can help children feel more in control and comfortable in the waiting room environment. Mention specific ways boards can reduce anxiety, such as allowing children to express when the room is too loud or when they need the restroom.

Preparing for Medical Appointments

Helps Children Prepare for Appointments Discuss how communication boards prepare children for medical interactions by allowing them to ask questions and express concerns about upcoming procedures, which can alleviate anxiety about visits to healthcare providers.

Commitment to Inclusive Care

Demonstrates Commitment to Inclusion and Diversity Finally, explain how incorporating communication boards demonstrates a clinic’s commitment to inclusivity and diversity. This section should reflect on how providing such tools sends a message of respect and understanding towards the unique needs of all patients, fostering a supportive and empathetic healthcare environment.

Conclusion: The Impact of Communication Boards in Pediatric Clinics

In conclusion, adding a communication board to the waiting room of pediatric clinics can greatly benefit children with communication difficulties and their families. These boards provide a visual aid that makes clinics more accessible and inclusive. As a result, children can feel more comfortable, confident, and in control during their visits. Furthermore, by showing a commitment to inclusion and diversity, clinics can foster a welcoming and supportive environment. This benefits all patients and families.

Barbara Fernandes, M.S CCC-SLP

Smarty Symbols Founder

Mass General Brigham Pediatric Group Practice Communication Board
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Communication Board for Pediatric Clinic/ Hospital

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The Smarty Symbols Pediatric Clinic & Hospital Communication Board is a versatile, customizable, and user-friendly tool meticulously designed to foster clear and effective communication in pediatric clinics and hospitals. This...


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