Children With Autism: Tips for Better Communication
Parents who have children with autism can sometimes struggle when it comes to conveying ideas to them or getting them to open up with their own communication. This isn’t a failing of the parents nor the child. Children with autism can often approach communication, especially verbal forms, very differently than neurotypical children. If you have a child with autism in your life, here are a few tips for better communication with them.
A common issue that many parents of children with autism run into is their difficulty in understanding subtext or emotion in verbal communication. Things that we might use every day, such as idioms or sarcasm, aren’t as well understood by children with autism. The best way to approach communication is to speak directly and plainly about what you want or need them to do without intoning anything different. Plain speech like this can reduce confusion and misunderstood expectations.
Use Visual Aids
Oftentimes, you can improve communication with children with autism by using visual aids. This is especially important for children with autism who aren’t verbal. The visuals don’t need to be complicated or fancy, although many parents nowadays choose to allow their children to use smartphones and other devices to communicate nonverbally, if that’s easier for them. Visual aids can help convey emotion better than words might for children on the autism spectrum.
Allow Time for Responses
For a child who might already struggle with verbal communication, the constraints of trying to answer a question or respond to something quickly can be much more stressful than normal. For smoother communication with a child who has autism, make sure you allow plenty of time for them to formulate a response and convey it how they wish to convey it. This can take some getting used to, and definitely requires patience with younger children, but it can help so much when you’re trying to have a back-and-forth conversation.
Seek Professional Therapy
You won’t always be able to fix every problem on your own. When it comes to children with autism, the challenges become more difficult to deal with, especially if you have little to no experience with autism. You shouldn’t feel any shame or embarrassment in searching for professional help with communication issues. ABA therapy is a proven method of therapy that can help children with autism develop communication skills faster than one or two untrained parents could hope to do on their own. The goal is always to improve the livelihood of the child, and professional help can do just that—and often in a shorter amount of time.
Photo – Kindel Media