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The Communication Pyramid

The Communication Pyramid highlights the 'building blocks' of language and communication development. The skills at the bottom of the pyramid need to be achieved first to successfully develop skills higher up.

Pre-Verbal & Early Interaction

This is the bottom level of the pyramid and outlines the key skills to developing language and communication. These include eye contact, turn taking, joint attention and pointing. Pre-verbal communication includes gestures, facial and eye movements, and vocalizations to communicate.

Attention & Listening

Attention and listening refers to the ability to notice, engage with, and respond to sounds and cues in their environment. It includes the ability to wait, look, and listen, and to attend to others when spoken to as well as attending to activities and tasks.

Play & Social Interaction

Play develops as children grow and learn, from early sensory exploration, through functional play such as stacking block, to pretend and imaginative play as they use what they learn and observe in life in their play. Social interaction builds on the early interaction skills established to develop relationships and friendships and begin to play and share with others.


Understanding refers to a child's ability to understanding the spoken language used around them. It includes their ability to follow instructions, answer questions, and respond to prompts and cues. 


Expressive language refers the child's ability to communicate through 'formal' language, however this may include signing, symbols, objects (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) as well as spoken language. It refers to the ability to communicate functionally and join 'words' and ideas together.


When using verbal language, speech refers to the clarity of words and accuracy of sound productions. Children present with a range speech sound errors which typically resolve as they develop. 

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