Tips for Communicating with a Nonverbal Autistic Child: Part Two

We recently took a look at some ways that you can encourage communication for a nonverbal autistic child. In that post, we discussed how play, social interaction, imitation of your child’s sounds and behaviors, nonverbal communication cues, and giving them enough room to respond can help the development of communication skills. Today, we’ll be completing this two-part look at how you can help develop your child’s communication skills. If you’re in need of childcare for your special needs child, call Darlene’s Wee Care 4 Kids.

-Simplify Your Communication

When you make your vocabulary minimal and simplified, it not only makes it easier for your child to understand, it also makes it easier for them to imitate that speech. If your child is nonverbal, keep it to single words (i.e. if they’re playing with a ball, say “ball” or “roll”). If they have begun to speak in single words, you can increase it to a short, two-word phrase (i.e. “throw ball” or “roll ball”). Keep the “one-up” rule in mind, where you use phrases with one more word than they are using. As they gain understanding, they’ll pick more words and phrases up and their communication skills can develop.

-Follow What They’re Interested In

Instead of steering your child’s focus away from something that has their interest, follow along by narrating their actions. Stick to the “one-up” rule with this as you describe their actions. The verbalization of what they’re doing allows them to make the connection to their actions with their corresponding names. Learning the vocabulary associated with something they enjoy and are interested in allows them to make connections easier than if they are presented with new actions and words all at once. That can cause them to retreat inwards, avoiding communication and interaction on the whole.

-Consider Devices and Visual Supports

There are many types of devices and visual supports available that can help facilitate communication while fostering the development of speech skills. For example, there are some devices and apps with pictures that produce words when your child touches them. Not only does that help a nonverbal child communicate, having a visual representation of the word they are attempting to say, combined with the audio of the word playing in direct connection to them, it can help them learn the vocabulary and how to vocalize what they are hoping to say.

While the strategies we’ve discussed in this two-part series have been successful for many parents with nonverbal and/or autistic children, it’s important to remember that every child is different. Something that may be successful for one person might not land with your child. Discuss with your child’s therapist strategies you’ve tried, what they connect with, and what they reject. They’ll be able to provide further advice depending on what is successful and what difficulties your child may be encountering. While it is a difficult situation, it’s vital to show patience to allow your child to develop at their own pace.

If you are in the Upper Darby area and you’re looking for childcare for your special needs child, call Darlene’s Wee Care 4 Kids. We’re here to help!


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