There are three main approaches for communicating a message; aggressive, passive and assertive. Ideally we want to teach our special needs learners to be assertive communicators. This means helping them build a set of skills that will encourage them to deliver their message clearly and concisely, and with enough politeness that it will be well accepted and listened to in a social situation.
Social and daily living activities such as going shopping, ordering a meal, asking for help in a clothing store, using a bank, visiting friends, going to the movies or making a complaint about poor service are all everyday tasks.
For a special needs learner, these situations can involve communicating with people who do not understand their own role in the communication activity. They may try to speak for a special needs learner, assume they cannot hear or need extra special help, or try to do things for them without asking.
In many cases, the learner with special needs has to have communication skills which can deal with these sorts of people confidently and without causing enormous offense. Ideally if they can leave the other person with a sense of ‘wow – I’m impressed by how well that young person handled themselves then’, they have done well.