Best Ways to Communicate With Autistic Children

Safety is an important component when it comes to dealing with children with autism. It is not only physical safety that should be of major concern but also safety in terms of communicating with the child, which if isn’t correct, might lead to accidents or other problems. Speaking to autistic children is not about speaking another language but speaking in a way that is easier for the child to comprehend. Using simple and understandable language is the key to effortless communication. Follow the following tips to make sure you convey the right things to the child.

Use Simple Sentences Instead Of Complex

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It is very important to use simple sentences when talking to an autistic child, speak slowly and clearly. For example, rather than saying “Ben, put your shoes on. It's time to go out”, say “Ben, shoes” may be more effective. Point at shoes at the same time and use the child's name.

In case of children, who have better ability to understand and speak, it is advised to use full sentences, but make sure that they are short and simple. Emphasize words if necessary and try to put them at the end of the sentence, e.g. 'It is time for a walk'.

Use Signs Or Images

Another technique is to use signs or images rather than real objects. If you tell a child it's time for a snack, show him a picture of a snack. This method will also help reduce the disappointment a child may feel at not being able to communicate verbally. For very young children the real object may be better, possibly backed up with signs. Be extra careful with images as the child could focus on the background if the picture has too much detail. Ensure that the image does not give too much information at once. Also, take care of what exactly you are offering.

For instance, the image is of orange juice and you are offering grape juice, the child will get confused between the two and it will also affect child’s color reorganization ability.

You can use different types of images like photographs, drawings, signs and symbols etc as per the child’s perception.

Be Careful Of Literal Meaning

Always be aware of what you say, your child might misunderstand or take it literally. For example, if you say 'Let the cat out of the bag', he may look for cats in the nearby bags. An expression such as ‘curiosity killed the cat' can be taken at face value and even cause terror.

Repeat Your Instruction

Constantly keep an eye on whether the child understands your instructions or not. Many autistic children may be listening and looking at you but not actually understanding you. If you think they haven’t understood the first time don't hesitate to repeat the instructions. Remember to repeat instructions in exactly the same way as the first time. If you speak your sentence slightly different than the first time the child may have to process the entire information all over again. Ensure to give them more time to process the information.

Address The Child By Name

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Don’t expect an autistic child to respond if you say ‘Phoebe’ or if the tone of the voice implies ‘Don’t do that’ or ‘come here’. Positively mould your instruction and say what you want her to do instead of what not to. For example instead of saying ‘Phoebe, stop running’ you can say ‘Phoebe, slow down’.

It is important to remember that every child is unique and special. They have different flair and abilities. They just need right guidance, encouragement and medium to channel their energy and talent in right direction.


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