Tips to Encourage Communication in non-verbal Kids with Autism
Children and adults with autism are often nonverbal or minimally verbal. They have trouble communicating with others around them. Often, families of autistic kids feel that they are unable to connect with their child due to various reasons. Helping kids learn the skills and strategies to communicate can aid them in using these techniques everywhere with others around them.
Here are some tips to encourage communication in non-verbal kids with autism:
- Use motivating items or people to encourage communication
For some kids, food can be a great motivator. For others, it could be a specific toy, movie, friend, family member or neighbors that motivates them. Find out what is it that your child feels most comfortable with and use it to encourage communication. You can use a variety of visual and auditory strategies to do that.
- Label feelings when they happen
This is something that needs to be done consistently. If a child is reaching for food in the fridge, label the feeling saying “You are hungry”. The more that a child hears about a particular feeling with a specific behavior, the better they will be able to understand it. You can model feelings such as excitement, sadness, hurt, happiness etc. as and when they happen.
- Assume Competence
Assuming competence, i.e. showing them the confidence that they can and will do something, is a powerful feeling. It is one of the most important things that parents and therapists can do for their kids. When you speak to a child with autism like any other child, it can make it a world of difference to them.
- Model Language and use Aided Language Stimulation
Model language is a great strategy to help encourage kids with autism to communicate. Often, children may not know specific word or structure of a sentence. For instance, a child may want water and might indicate that to you in a way that you will understand. In this case, you should encourage him to say “I want water.” Giving the model will help improve a child’s receptive and expressive language. Even Aided Language Stimulation can be very useful during various activities to help build language and communication.
- Use a total communication approach
To encourage communication in nonverbal and autistic kids, you can use total communication approach with both aided and unaided means. Aided communication refers to anything other than your body that you use to communicate. This may include pictures, photographs, words, etc. Many children with autism who are not able to use speech for functional communication often use pictures, photographs, words and other systems to express themselves.Unaided communication uses your body to communicate through facial expression, gestures and sign language. Thus, a total communication approach is the best way to communicate with nonverbal kid.
These strategies help others communicate and connect with those diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum that struggle with communication. Both verbal, minimally verbal and nonverbal kids can benefit from these strategies.