Strategies for Encouraging Communication

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 As a parent of a child who has been diagnosed with autism, you are always looking for ways to help your child on the spectrum increase their communication skills. Here are some strategies that you can use at home, at school and in the community to help your child increase communication and language skills.   

1.  Children are motivated by things that interest them – Most children on the spectrum are motivated to communicate when they are involved in a conversation about something that interests them, (example: cars/trucks, animals, etc) or when reading their favorite stories, and playing their favorite games. The key to encouraging your child with autism to communicate is giving them a reason to communicate. Ask them questions, use materials and activities that interest and motivate them so that your child is engaged in the activity and wants to talk about it.

2. Don’t jump in to help themAdults naturally want to help children. One of the most difficult things a parent will have to do is pause and stop themselves from helping their child on the spectrum, who may be struggling to speak their mind or answer a question. It is always good to allow your child with autism the opportunity to communicate on their own, even if it means you have to wait a few seconds before either clarifying the question, giving a clue, or saying what you would like them to imitate.

3.  Speak to your child regularly – Model language for your child, during play or other daily activities so that they learn new vocabulary, hear correct sentence structure, and listen to examples of appropriate conversation.

4. Expand on their vocabulary – When your child is learning to say or pronounce a new word, or when your child on the spectrum can only say part of a word, there are always opportunities to encourage more language.

There are countless opportunities to work on communication during the day. Try these strategies above and expand on them to fit your child’s needs. As they get older and more advanced you can always find more ways to increase their language and communication skills.