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One of the classic symptoms of Autism is difficulty in verbal communication. A very common hurdle for parents, caregivers, and therapists is being able to carry on a conversation with a child with Autism. There are several reasons why children on the Autism spectrum may have difficulty communicating. At Circle Care, we work with a wide range of children, from those with a limited ability to speak to others who are altogether non-verbal. It’s important to remember that just because there is a challenge in communication with a child with Autism, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
Keep in mind there are many innovative and creative ways to talk to children with Autism. The following is a brief overview of the different approaches you can use to speak with your child with Autism. As with the following suggestions, your method will depend entirely on your child, their abilities, therapist recommendations, and your level of comfort.
Be socially inclusive with a child with Autism
First and foremost, it’s important to remember if you’re speaking with a child with autism, never assume that they have any cognitive limitations. Some individuals with Autism may have difficulty with speech yet are fully able to comprehend the conversation at hand. They just may have trouble expressing themselves verbally.
That’s why it’s critical to speak to a child with Autism, regardless of age, as if they are standing directly next to you. It’s crucial to be respectful of them and to preserve their dignity.
It’s equally important to avoid using what is otherwise known as terms of endearment, such as “honey” or “lovey.” These can be viewed as condescending or offensive to someone working to be independent.
Make an effort to communicate with a child with Autism
Just because talking to a child with Autism is potentially tricky doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Often adults avoid including children with Autism in conversations because they believe this is the more straightforward solution. Do not make this error. It’s important to remember that both you and your children (whether you’re a caregiver or parent) can benefit greatly from practicing communication through conversations. This is important even if the discussions are not always successful!
Adults often presume that if a child with Autism isn’t responding or seemingly has shut down during a conversation, they don’t want to talk. This isn’t always true when working with a child on the Autism Spectrum; it’s part of the disorder. Try not to take their disinterest personally. Instead, try gently to involve the child with Autism in your conversation. Eventually, you will find though they may have difficulty, they will engage.
Ask Questions and Facilitate Successful Dialogue with a child with Autism
Obsessions are part of Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Remember, children with Autism who are verbal often have particular topics and subjects they enjoy talking about. Therefore, it’s your job to listen to what they want to speak about and let them express themselves. If you’ve gotten lost in the conversation (often due to the amount of detail they can present), feel free to ask the child direct questions. Usually, a child with Autism loves to answer questions on their preferred subject.
It’s not recommended that you force or try to direct the conversation how you’d prefer it to go. Either you’ll be ignored, or the child with Autism may have an outburst and completely shut down.
Take a visual approach when speaking with a child with Autism
Pictures and images often can improve the way non-verbal and verbally limited children communicate with parents and others. Try introducing cards with pictures so they can ask for what they need or want. By using images, you’re encouraging children to engage with others. You might find that by starting with pictures, it will evolve into language.
Speak literally to a child with Autism
With regard to how you use your words around a child with autism, it’s important to remember that they are literal. Keep your sentences short and direct. By incorporating any kind of jokes, slang, allusions, metaphors, sarcasm, and other figures of speech, you will only hinder the conversation. In general, children with Autism won’t be able to interpret any type of communication that is dependent on analyzing someone else’s subtext or emotional state. It’s important to say exactly what you mean, to speak plainly and directly. Don’t mince your words.
By contrast, children with autism might also use phrases in their sentences that they’ve heard from t.v., social media, or friends at school. If you catch your child using these phrases out of context, it’s up to you to find clues to determine what they’re trying to say. Though it is encouraging to hear your child pick up and imitate what others around them are saying, they will need some help ensuring the correct thing is communicated correctly.
Ask for a bit of help from a furry friend
No animals cannot help children with Autism speak, but they can help your little one in several different ways. One of the most significant hurdles to using language is overstimulation in the form of extreme sounds, lights, activities, and other distractions. Animals are known to reduce stress and automatically calm children who become easily overstimulated. Often an animal can help children with autism focus on other people (i.e., parents) and what they’re trying to do.
Secondly, animals provide a tremendous sense of acceptance for children with autism. If your child attempts to speak and fails, the presence of an animal can bring a tremendous sense of comfort and nonjudgmental reassurance.
Additionally, for children with autism who find socializing with their peers difficult, the presence of an animal may allow their emotions to open up, thereby increasing their sensitivity to what others are feeling.
Seek professional help for a child with Autism
Early intervention is crucial for children who experience speech delays, especially those with Autism. The faster they begin to work with a speech therapist and an ABA therapist, the quicker they’ll be armed with the necessary tools to understand and use language. In addition, the teachers, parents, and siblings of the child with Autism will encounter less confusion and frustration.
A well-trained speech-language pathologist and ABA therapist will have the tools and strategies to encourage your child to communicate. They will also be able to instruct your child about the language skills needed for daily life. Family members, educators, and caregivers will have the opportunity to work alongside the speech pathologist and learn from their expertise so that they can apply what’s being learned in the classroom to day-to-day life.
Circle Care Can Help!
Yes, children with Autism often don’t act like neurotypical children, but it’s important to remember that you’re still communicating with a child. Someone whose beliefs, attitudes, and thoughts are developing in an immature brain. As such, they deserve to be treated as the children they are, with kindness and patience. Remember, with some practice; you may discover that you can speak to your child with Autism as quickly as any other one. The outcome for you and your child may be positive and enjoyable as you both develop your communication skills and interpersonal bond. If you want to learn more tips and tricks about parenting a child with autism, sign up to receive our email newsletter!