In 2020, the Centers for Disease Control found that 1 in 36 children had an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis in the United States. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that impacts a person’s ability to communicate and interact.
People with ASD commonly have repetitive behaviors and difficulty socializing, among other characteristics. Helping your child with communication through early intervention can make a big difference in the advancement of talking and social interactions.
There are various ways to teach your child with autism how to communicate. In this blog, we will look at how to:
- Model language
- Imitate your child
- Give your child time to respond
- Use existing routines
- Get into their world and PLAY
- Try assistive technology and visual Tools
At What Age do Children with Autism Start Talking?
Typically, children will begin to speak between 12 and 18 months, advancing from cooing and singular words to a broader range of sounds by 18 to 24 months. For children with autism, verbal communication usually begins around 36 months (three years old). While this is the most common time, children with autism might start speaking as late as five years old. It’s important to note that around 25-30% of children with ASD say fewer than 30 words or may not speak at all.
If your child has yet to be diagnosed with autism and exhibits delayed speech, you can take your child to a specialist such as a child psychiatrist or development pediatrician; They will look for signs of autism and offer a professional perspective.
Children with autism may begin verbal communication later in life, but you can start using communication techniques before this. Teaching your child to speak in early childhood offers encouragement and can jumpstart their progress.
Model language for your child all day, every day. Use complete sentences full of vocabulary and descriptive words. Narrate what you are doing, what you see, and how you feel using adult grammar.
Provide language modeling without requiring or asking your child to imitate or repeat. If your child is an AAC user, then model using their device!
When you use a wide range of vocabulary words, it gives your child the opportunity to grow their mental word bank. This can enhance social situations by familiarizing them with different words and associations.
Simplify Your Language
Along with giving your child examples of rich vocabulary and descriptive words, it’s also important to practice patience and simplicity in your conversations. Your child may be able to listen to you describing your day to them and absorb the information, but once you begin asking them questions, be simple, clear, and straightforward.
Imitate Your Child
It encourages more vocalization when you mimic your child’s sounds, inflation, and interactions. You’re showing them that their sounds and movements render a response. When imitating your child, invite them to take turns with you; you can even exaggerate your voice by emphasizing parts of a word or using high pitch endings.
Give Your Child Time to Respond
Ask fewer, shorter questions and allow longer pauses so your child can process what you have said before responding. Wait up to 10 seconds after you ask a question or model language. It can feel like a long time, but it’s well worth it.
Use Existing Routines
Natural communication builds on the routines you perform with your child every day. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel or develop complex activities.
Add more language and more interaction into your daily routines by talking through your actions aloud and using fun exclamatory words when appropriate.
Activities such as brushing teeth, bath time, mealtime, and getting dressed are perfect for practicing requesting, answering new words or phrases, following directions, and sequencing.
Get into Their World and PLAY
A child’s job is to play. Let go of the need to create an activity, play a certain way, or follow specific rules. Meet them at their level and enter their world.
Observe your child and copy how they are playing. Parallel play alongside them until they invite you to join in their game. You will be amazed at the trust and connection this builds.
Use Music, Songs, and Nursery Rhymes
The engagement and interaction you provide are far more beneficial than anything on the TV or iPad. Singing with your child allows you to pause or slow for your child to join in. You can add toys or visuals (i.e., have stuffed animals jumping on the bed for the “5 little monkeys” song).
Adapt and have fun with instruments, eye contact, and repetitive movements. You can be silly and add in funny dance moves and show your child that you’re having fun with them.
Try Assistive Technology and Visual Tools
Some children with autism prefer using devices and visuals to accompany or in place of speech. Using these kinds of tools with your child fosters communication and speech development. They allow your child to use pictures and sounds to convey emotions, requests, and thoughts to you and others.
Giving your child the space to communicate in a way they feel comfortable with can create a bridge to speaking for themselves.
Below are several assistive technologies and visual tools available online for purchase:
- GoTalk One Message Talker
- GoTalk 20+
- GoTalk Button
- What Should I Do Now? Card Game
- Green Pocket Timer
- The Stop, Relax & Think Card Game
- Go Talk Cover and Stand
- Talking Photo Album
- Twin Talk Communicator
Call Ally Pediatric Therapy Today
At Ally Pediatric Therapy, our goal is to make every aspect of autism evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment transparent and manageable for you and your family. We want to help you see your child flourish and lead a life with confidence and joy.
Learn more about how you can help your child thrive today!