How To Use Everyday Opportunities To Help Your Child With Autism Learn Language Skills
Children with autism spectrum disorder learn best during everyday activities and interactions, such as riding in the car to school, eating a family meal or going to the grocery store.
During daily activities, parents can provide language-learning opportunities and promote social communication skills. In fact, research has shown that when parents learn specific strategies to promote their childs communication skills, children with autism often have better language outcomes than those who just receive intervention from clinicians.
Take advantage of everyday learning opportunities
Incorporating language-building strategies into daily life can help children develop communication skills. Here are some tips to help parents become more effective communication partners:
Help your child understand language:
- Get your childs undivided attention. Try getting down on his level and communicating face-to-face.
- Use simple, short sentences. If your child is nonverbal, using mostly single words can help with understanding. Use phrases and allow for processing time to help a child whos using single words or short phrases to communicate.
- Give your child time to respond to your language and offer support to help him follow through.
- Adding visual support strategies, including gestures, actual objects and pictures can help your child better understand you.
Promote expressive language development:
Talking About Your Child With Autism
Just a kid.
Say hi. Dont just ignore a child with autism, even if they are nonverbal, or dont reciprocate. It may take many more times before they learn to reciprocate. Using social greetings appropriately and at the right time is a skill set, and it may take them longer to gain those skills. Try not to give up too soon.
Talk to them. It may be more difficult to process information, and short and simple phrasing may be better, but continue to make the effort to talk to a child with autism so that they hear and see language in action.
Talk with your hands. Some children who struggle with verbal communication use formal sign language to bridge the gap while they are learning to talk. But beyond that, and for all individuals with and without autism, visual supports and gestures can be used help to clarify verbal information. We all use our hands to gesture when we give directions or describe something, to support our words, and these additional visual cues can help.
Use correct grammar. A child with autism who struggles with language still benefits from hearing many models of correct grammar and language sequencing. In fact, some may demonstrate relative strengths in imitation of your phrases and sentences, and so it is best if they are simple but intact grammatical utterances.
Relax And Be Yourself
Meeting a child with autism is much like meeting anyone its all about relaxing and putting the other person at ease. Just be yourself and enjoy the experience of getting to know someone on the autism spectrum.
After more than a decade in a clinical setting spent testing, assessing and diagnosing children with a variety of disabilities, life sent me and my wife one of its more ironic twists. Our second child, Ross, was diagnosed with autism. He is non-verbal and on the more severe end of the spectrum.
Having sat on both sides of the diagnostic table, as a health professional and as a parent, provides a unique perspective into the misconceptions that so much of the population seems to have regarding autism. With the relatively recent elimination of the previous subtypes of autism, were left with a broad definition of what autism is and how it looks.
People are often inquisitive because theres so much they dont understand about the disorder. Rightfully so, as theres plenty even professionals still dont know. But well-meaning questions or statements can actually be quite hurtful for parents going through a diagnosis or treatment process.
To avoid putting your foot in your mouth, here are nine tips on how to talk to a parent of a child with autism.
1. Are you sure he is autistic?
2. But he looks so normal or Shes so pretty, its hard to believe.
3. What caused it?
4. Does he have any special gifts?
5. Avoid clichés.
6. I know what youre going through.
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Tips For Bonding With Your Autistic Grandchild
Grandparents may want to connect with their autistic grandchildren, but very often they are uncertain about what to do, what to say, or how to reach out. Luckily, you can help. Here are some simple tips that may help you, your parents, and your child to build new relationships along with new skills.
Tips For Talking To Kids With Autism
Since one of the classic symptoms of autism is a marked deficit in verbal communication abilities, a common problem for applied behavior analysts and others who work with children and even adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder is simply being able to carry on a basic conversation. Something as simple as finding out what they want for lunch or whether or not they are happy or sad or indifferent about their current school assignment can be nearly impossible to find out if you rely on normal conversational methods.
But dont let that stop you!
There are ways to have conversations with autistic kids and you can make them easier by keeping the following tips in mind.
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Be Comfortable With Silence
In some kids with ASD, verbal processing may take time. Others may be mostly non-verbal. Either way, its good to be comfortable with silence. If you ask a question, wait a very long time before you give up on an answer. This can feel a little uncomfortable at first, but its really helpful for the child. Just sit with him and wait. You may be surprised when he provides a lovely answer a couple minutes after you asked the question.
Respect Her For Who She Is
No one expects one person to change . What you can do is change your world. You can give your child the tools to be a strong self-advocate. You can give your child an example of a true ally by changing the conversation about autism and disability in your own lives and homes. How do you do that? Presume competence. Presume that your child is aware and wants to understand. Respect your child. Do not do to your autistic child what you would not do to a typically developing child. Your autistic child is not in need of fixing. They are in need of acceptance and understanding. Redefine normal. Recognize that normal is subjective. Stimming, flapping, perseverance, and accommodating sensory preferences are not reasons to apologize. Calm down. Your autistic child at three is not your autistic child at nine. Or 15, or 30. Do not write the story of your childs life before they even enter kindergarten. Seek out the autistic community. If you want to learn about autism and what it is like to live an autistic life, no one else will be able to help you understand like we can. Lastly, understand what acceptance really means. It does not mean no supports or accommodations. It does not mean no help or therapies. Acceptance means that you accept your childs autistic neurology as valid. Lei Wiley-Mydske
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How Do You Get An Autistic Child To Focus
Use a phone or tablet to help keep focus!
Tips For Staying Calm
Of course, the best way to be calm is to stay calm to start with. That means teaching your child how to manage his or her own feelings.
There are some techniques which, while not failproof, can make a big positive difference. Many are related to sensory integration therapyan approach which helps people with sensory dysfunction to manage challenging situations. These techniques include:
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Tips For Interacting Positively With Children On The Autism Spectrum
As a parent you hope not only that your child will do well in class, but also that they’ll get along well with others and fit in. But imagine if you were the parent of a child with a disability that may not be immediately recognizable. You’d want people to understand and be kind.
Children with autism often attend mainstream schools, but it might be difficult to identify them by sight. You might notice they communicate differently or act differently and wonder how to interact with them and include them.
“Just because children with autism communicate differently doesn’t mean they should be ignored,” says speech-language pathologist Erin McQuivey, MS, CCC-SLP, who works with children with autism as a manager at Primary Children’s Outpatient Rehabilitation at Intermountain Riverton Hospital in Riverton, Utah.
“Children with autism can communicate in a lot of different ways. They may use words, facial expressions, gestures, emotions, and even assistive technology,” she adds. “We should honor all these methods as meaningful communication. It’s their way to build relationships, ake requests, and comment. We should recognize the communication methods they’re comfortable with.”
Teach Your Child Phrases And Figures Of Speech To Help Communicate
I taught all my kids to say, Do you get it? after they told a joke. This was quite helpful for my family because all three kids would tell us jokes that werent very funny or even clearly supposed to be a joke. So they all learned to say, Did you get it? afterward if whoever they were telling the joke to was just standing there with a lost expression on their face. Similarly, just joking and Isnt it funny that were also useful phrase tools for the kids to learn. Even the standard whos there line to respond after being told knock-knock helped them join in with that joke-telling ritual, and practice conversational answering and replying skills.
Kids with autism often struggle with figures of speech. If you say, I have a frog in my throat, they might well ask you to open your mouth so they can look inside and see the frog. Learning that there were such silly sentences in which the words didnt mean exactly what they implied was a difficult lesson for my kids. All three of them finally learned it by asking or telling me upon hearing such that it was Just a figure of speech, right? It helped them be able to figure that out for themselves, or ask the person or someone else if what they didnt understand was just a figure of speech or not. They even then would work such expressions into their own speech, which is a higher level of communication skills.
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Remember They Are Just Kids And Deserve Love
No matter how old they are but their thoughts and attitudes are being formed in an immature brain. Have patience while talking to them and with little practice you will have positive interpersonal connection. The results will be positive in terms of development of communication skills and enjoyable relationship.
Give Your Child Opportunity To Speak
It is natural to feel the urge to fill in language when a child look at something and you just hand that thing to him. Ohm. You missed an opportunity to communicate. For example when he looks at cookie, and with a fraction of a second you understand what he wants. But wait and watch for any sound then respond promptly.
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At What Age Do Autistic Children Start Talking
While some parents wonder why their two-year-old child has still not started speaking, there are other parents who are still waiting for their 6-year-old child to say his first words. There is no age for learning but its normal for parents to worry about when their child will talk. Reports show that autistic children mostly start learning from the age of 6 and older.
How Do Speech Therapists Help Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Speech language pathologists can help children with autism improve social and communication skills. They teach them how to get along with others, understand and use gestures and other alternative forms of communication, follow directions, and ask and answer questions.
They can also help with feeding problems and sensory issues with food, if children don’t like how food feels, looks, tastes, or smells.
They also teach parents how to help their child with autism better navigate the world. They provide guidance for parents to advocate for their child’s needs at school.
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Dont Assume Nonverbal Children Cant Communicate
Many children with autism don’t speak at all. But never assume that they don’t have something to say.
For children with autism, behavior is a form of communication. That includes:
- Walking away
Listen to what the child is trying to say. Ignore it, and the behavior may escalate until the child gets the point across.
Visual Supports And Devices
Technology has provided many devices that can foster language development of autistic children. Lots of apps are available for autistic children to learn speech.
They touch the picture on the screen of the iPad or any other device. The device produces a sound and helps your child to learn sounds. In this way, these devices help and teach your autistic child to talk. These devices also help your child with autism to use these apps to show his requests and thoughts.
Be careful because using tablets, phones, computer results in various outcomes. Always track their activities.
Your child therapists can guide you to select best strategies for encouraging language development of your child with autism. Discuss your childs little achievements as well as difficulties with them.
So, they can guide you with good understanding. Together we can support children with autism.
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Techniques To Help Nonverbal Child Communicate
There are certain techniques you can try to encourage your nonverbal child to communicate. Here are a couple:
Encourage social interaction and play: Play, especially pretend play, is a great tool to teach children language skills. This will create fun opportunities for your child to communicate. You can also try certain activities like singing to promote social interaction. Make sure that it is easier for your child to see and hear you clearly during these activities.
Be patient: You may feel the need and urge to fill in the gaps in terms of language when your child doesnt immediately respond. However, it is important to give the child the opportunity to gather their thoughts and communicate. This may not alway happen through speaking. But when you ask a question, just wait for a few seconds. Observe your child for the sounds and the gestures they make. When they make an attempt, be prompt to respond so that they will get the idea and feel like they are communicating.
Include your childs areas of interest: Make sure that you are including the things and topics your child is interested in your communication attempts. Dont interrupt their focus and go along with them. Describe what they are doing with the object of interest. By including what engages your child into these activities, they will be more likely to associate what they learned with the objects, and expand their vocabulary with the things they love.
How To Keep Them Interested
Regardless whether your child is verbal or not compliance and non-compliance, high-functioning or otherwise one rule holds true about getting someones attention is to find out about their strengths and their preferences.
So I am going to use my children as an example on how their strengths and preferences can be used to establish connection and to teach them about Social Distancing.
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Give Your Autistic Child Ways To Talk About The Past
*Even if your child doesnt have autism I encourage you to keep reading if you would like ways to reach your child in a deeper way.
Occasionally we are given gems of knowledge that I love to pass on to those who are raising children with autism. One such gem came from Michael Emmons*, who works with our kids school on including special needs children in the general classroom.
Emmons was at our home observing Jeremiah so he could make recommendations to the school about communication goals. While here, he noticed Jeremiahs family photo books sitting on the coffee table, and said, Its great to have pictures so Jeremiah has a way to talk about the past.
At the time, I saw this as a novel idea, but since then it has grown into something more than I expected. It shouldnt have been such a cutting edge concept for me, I mean it seems so simple when you really think about it. Give children who cant communicate a way to talk about the past, but it was something I hadnt thought of. I was simply thinking present and future tense and thats where it ended. Very unfair to Jeremiah.
Typical kids get to talk about the past and relate it to the present and future all the time. I like to put it in perspective with examples so we can really grasp how it is for our children who cant communicate, or who cant communicate well.
I could go on and on, as always, but you get the idea. Theres obviously so much to talk about, and our children cant or have difficulty doing so.