Some parents may have difficulty talking to their kids due to relationship conflicts. However, it is nothing compared to families whose children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Coming up with effective autism communication strategies is undoubtedly a brain twister in this scenario.
To be more specific, a child who has autism spectrum disorder finds it hard to communicate with other people. Besides, not every parent knows the right ways to help them understand language or any other means of communication.
Therefore, we have decided to bring about a number of solutions regarding how to improve communication skills in autism.
- What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
- 5 Types of Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Autism Communication Skills: How To Help Autistic Child Speak
- Autism Communication Strategies: Reminders For Parents
What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental condition involving challenges in speech and nonverbal communication, social interaction, restricted or repetitive behaviors. The effects and severity of autism symptoms vary among people.
Problems related to communication and social interaction arise when the child has trouble talking, responding, sharing interests, or understanding facial expressions. These can make them struggle to develop relationships and make friends.
Restricted/repetitive behaviors are exhibited by uncommon ways of doing things (throwing and flipping objects) or unique ways of speaking (in odd pitches), showing interest in unusual routines or habits…
Doctors and parents usually find evidence of their child having autism spectrum disorder at the age of 2-3 years old. It’s not rare according to CDC’s fact that 1 out of 59 children is diagnosed with autism.
Yet, don’t lose your hope. Many autistic children have managed to live a happy and fulfilled life even when, for example, associated with nonverbal autism activities.
5 Types of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Because autism includes a wide range of symptoms and characteristics, experts have traditionally classified them into 5 certain types. Apart from symptoms, severity is also taken into account.
This is considered a mild type of autism disorder. A child or person diagnosed with Asperger’s can show exceptional intellectual capability. They are clever at handling things in life, especially subjects and topics that draw their attention. However, social skills are among their top weaknesses.
Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PPD)
The PPD type – also known as “autistic disorder” or “classic autism” – is similar to but more severe than Asperger’s. Social, language, and behavioral challenges are also indicative of PPD.
Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)
PDD-NOS is associated with children who don’t really fit in certain criteria of autism but still have some relevant symptoms.
Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD)
Autism CDD type is the rarest and most severe of the spectrum. Children who have CDD may grow normally for a few years, then suddenly lose their language, social skills, sometimes motor skills. This likely happens between the age of 2 and 4.
Although Rett syndrome encompasses symptoms that are similar to autism, there has been a consensus among experts who support a different idea. They believe that Rett syndrome is not a type of autism spectrum disorder because it stems from a genetic mutation. Hence, it should be considered a physical disorder, not a mental disorder like autism.
Autism Communication Skills: How To Help Autistic Child Speak
Apparently, children with autism spectrum disorder don’t develop language and communication skills normally. They may not speak at all for years or find an easy way around those obstacles.
Even when they do a little bit, it’s hard to communicate with them only using eye contact and facial expressions. Unless their parents know exactly how to talk to an autistic kid, they will probably never know how to use language to the fullest extent.
A study in 2013 showed that many nonverbal children with autism develop language after the age of 4. Thanks to modern mental therapies nowadays, the likelihood of an autistic child continuing to promote language skills is higher.
Before delving deeper into effective autism communication strategies, keep in mind that the progress and result for each person with autism may not be the same. That being said, you just gotta keep moving forward and never lose your hope.
Set a routine that fits both parents and their kids
When teaching conversation skills autism, you cannot achieve your goal without making preparations. First and foremost, parents should find the right time to set up a daily routine for communicating with their autistic children.
By doing this, you can step by step motivate the child to implement the language. One of the most recommended nonverbal autism activities is to read a book for them before going to bed.
Using a text-to-speech function with the help of a digital device also works. Nevertheless, having parents provide more context to construct meaning from words is always better.
Repeat this pattern every night for 1-2 weeks, track your progress to see if it has made any differences in your child’s reaction to language
Start from scratch
It’s time parents began to learn how to help autistic children speak. Stop clinging to book snippets and bedtime stories. Instead, you have to make your child focus on one single word at a time.
When your child starts to catch on, you can combine the word with simple prepositions to describe more meanings. For example, take advantage of short commands like “Hat on” and you’ll see how it progresses.
Get a blank piece of paper with a pencil, write a big, simple word and explain what it means. Easy as a piece of cake, isn’t it?
Unfortunately, things don’t work like that for a child with autism. To achieve the best result of teaching a new word, parents need to represent it with visual supports. Seek help from a smartphone or tablet which can show relevant images from Google. In case you don’t have such devices, impress your kid with your natural talent for drawing.
Visual supports include not only photos but also symbols, even objects to help people with disorders process information and build language skills. While spoken communication may not work well, visual illustrations have been proved conducive.
If your child cannot speak the word exactly, they can point to a related image to communicate something. For instance, showing a photo of cakes should mean that they are hungry.
After remembering more words and symbols, they can start learning to create simple sentences or answer questions.
Focus on interests
Follow what piques their interests and makes them excited. Note that you don’t have to think of a new word for them to learn. Instead, parents should narrate what the child is doing at that moment.
Suppose that your kid was playing a jumping game, try saying “up” and “down” according to his movements, or “stand” and point to his posture. Thus, associating the child’s favorite things with vocabulary will of much help.
Give him some space
When you ask a question, even if your child doesn’t respond immediately, just give him a minute.
Take a breath, calm down, free yourself from the urge to quickly speak out loud the answer. Pause for a while, watch for his reactions, look in his eyes expectantly. By doing this, you can passively encourage your child to respond.
Autism Communication Strategies: Reminders For Parents
– Think about your style of spoken language before trying to teach your child how to communicate. If they don’t seem to catch on well, modify your language by using more clear structures and simplified terms.
– Pay attention to their repetitive behaviors and habits, such as stomping or jumping. Children with autism may use them to express their anger or excitement.
– Provide access to rewards, motivators, or reinforcers after engagement in structured tasks.
– Avoid rhetorical or open questions like “How do you feel?” that have multiple ways of responding. The same is applied for vague language (metaphors, idioms) that requires more context to understand.