A child with autism faces various problems when talking. Don’t let these problems take away their right to talk. If you don’t already know, learn how to talk to an autistic child today.
Speech is by far the most valuable skill that makes humans different from other species. We can talk and share our feelings, emotions, or information through language. This verbal means of communication allows for better relations and maintenance of self-confidence.
Could you imagine not being able to speak? It’s scary, but a reality for a child with autism. An autistic child is not completely devoid of verbal communication skills, but faces a lot of problems when communicating to others. Here is a two-step strategy to effectively talk to a child with autism.
Further Reading: Learn more about Treating Autism
Step 1: Understanding the language and communication problems in a child with autism
Understanding what autism does to a child is the first step in learning how to talk to him/her. An autistic child bears the brunt of being self-absorbed and living in their own world where they find it difficult to talk to others. The child is more likely to have problems with language skills and in some cases may not be able to make a sense of what other people are talking about. To make things worse, autism also robs a child of their ability to communicate through nonverbal means such body language, eye contact and appropriate expressions in the face.
Not every child is the same. Understandably, not every child with autism has the same level of problems with communication, language and social interaction. It is seen that autism in some cases can cause the child to lose their ability to talk, while another child may be fluent in specific topics. The most common communication problem observed in these children is their inability to use language in an effective manner coupled with proper body language. They also struggle with repetitive patterns of the language and use of non-contextual words. The rigidity with the language is often termed as “robot-like”.
Step 2: Take specific actions
When talking to a child, there are many things you need to consider to make communication more effective and less burdening.
In a non-drug therapy called “Speech and Language Therapy”, a child with autism learns verbal communication skills that help in better communication and enhanced social interactions. While this therapy is delivered by trained speech therapist, you can also make an added effort to facilitate communication, such as:
- Keep conversations clear with simple and short sentences: You may also avoid questioning whenever possible. Questions can confuse a child with autism. They may know the answer but have problems finding the words and the appropriate way to answer. The way you talk should be more informative and less complicated.
- Avoid possible distractions. It’s probable your child can become easily distracted by external factors such as noise or visual disturbances. Therefore, it is necessary for you to continue the conversation, keeping distractions to a minimum. For example, turn off your television or lower the volume while talking.
- Have patience while talking: If your child fails to understand your words or finds it difficult to read your facial expressions, or takes a long time to respond, repeat and simplify the words or expressions every time you start a new conversation. Patience is the key to parenting a child with autism.
- Keep talking: Never let your child stay out of conversation. The more they keep away from talking, the greater the chance for complications while talking. Make sure you keep talking to your child about their favorite games, sports, cartoons, books, or anything that interests them.
Parenting a child with autism is a daunting task. Do not get disheartened if your child fails to meet your expectations. Ensure a supportive and caring environment where your child can excel. Also, schedule regular doctor visits and make appointments for speech therapy classes.
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