Home » Autism Parenting Advice » 7 Tips on How to Interact with an Autistic Child

7 Tips on How to Interact with an Autistic Child

April 9, 2024

Interactions and communication can be at the top of the list of concerns when you wonder how to interact with an autistic child. There really isn’t an exact science that would work for all children on the spectrum.

Understanding your child and their unique interests is a crucial starting point. This is a step that can be easily overlooked, but when it’s put front and center, it can empower you to connect with your child in a meaningful way.

In this article, we will list tips on strengthening communication skills, getting a child with autism to interact and engage with you, and what you should avoid when interacting with them.

Download your FREE guide on 

10 Valuable Ways to Cope with Social Interaction

1. Recognize different social perspectives

Children with autism are going to communicate differently and have a different way of viewing the world. How they process social cues and use social communication skills will be no different.

The sooner you acknowledge the differences and work with them, the sooner your child will be able to open up and learn their way.

2. Never stop learning

It’s important to learn as your child is learning. Read up and learn more about autism, social skills, and whatever else you are looking to learn more about your child.

The more you learn, the more it should help you understand your child and maybe see a little bit of their world. There are social skills programs that have parents as active members in the process. They work because the parent is able to extend the lesson over to the real world with their child.

3. Don’t focus on what’s correct or incorrect

When guiding an autistic child, it’s important to give feedback in a positive way so they don’t feel bad about themselves. Instead of saying something is ‘wrong’, explain why certain behaviors are important.

For example, you could say, “We say excuse me so people know we’re passing by politely.” This helps them understand why we do things, making it easier for them to follow social rules and feel good about themselves when they do.

By showing them how actions like saying “excuse me” make interactions smoother, we help them grasp social expectations while boosting their confidence.

4. Remember, it’s about the journey and the progress

As I stated before, it is the opportunity to practice that will help the child progress with their learned skill. It is important to remember that it won’t happen overnight, but it’s the journey that can help strengthen the skills as the child grows and learns more skills.

A mother and a young girl talking on a couch https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/autistic-child-interaction/

Remembering these steps helps to keep things simple and easygoing. A lot of autistic children don’t like feeling extra pressure or stress and may actually regress in skills. 

That’s why the KISS (Keep It Simple Silly) method is always a good idea when learning and practicing skills. It emphasizes simplicity in communication and problem-solving. Instead of overcomplicating things, it’s about keeping them straightforward and simple so that everyone can understand them easily.

5. Take a child-centered approach

Approaching communication skills and interactions from the child’s perspective is key, allowing them to choose their starting point and progress from there. This approach empowers the child, fostering a sense of control and autonomy in their social development journey.

By acknowledging the child’s agency in their own learning process, caregivers can create a supportive environment where the child feels valued and respected. This, in turn, enhances the child’s motivation to engage in communication activities and fosters a positive attitude towards learning.

6. Allow the child to express their interests

Allowing the child to express their interests encourages meaningful conversations and back-and-forth communication. By discussing and explaining their interests, children not only enhance their conversational skills but also deepen their bond with parents or caregivers.

This exchange of information provides opportunities for the child to practice:

  • turn-taking, 
  • listening, and 
  • responding appropriately

Moreover, discussing their interests allows children to share their passions and experiences, fostering a sense of self-expression and identity development.

7. Keep it appropriate

There is no need to over-train communication skills. That just causes robotic responses. Instead, it was recommended to model and allow ample time to practice communication of needs while helping the child feel they are in control of the conversation

These are just a starting point and can turn into long back-and-forth conversations. It’s important to let the child have control over the conversation and be able to stop when they need to or continue on.

Special Offer

Don't miss out on the Autism Parenting Summit.
Click here to sign up now!

Learning how to interact with an autistic child can strengthen your bond

The time spent with your child will do so much for their self-esteem and overall quality of life. That is because parents are children’s first teachers and help form habits and skills that the children will use throughout life.

Having a strong bond with your child is important for both the parent and child. Children with secure bonds to their parents are more willing to explore because they have a solid foundation to go back to.

Parenting is such an amazing journey, and watching as your child with autism learns and soars is such an amazing feeling. Always remember that people do not always see what parents do, but their children know, and that is what is important in the end.


Loftus, Y. (2021). Communication Problems and Children with Autism. https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/autism-children-communication-problems/ 

Cara Wilson, Margot Brereton, Bernd Ploderer, and Laurianne Sitbon. 2019. Co-Design Beyond Words: ‘Moments of Interaction’ with Minimally-Verbal Children on the Autism Spectrum. In Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’19). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, Paper 21, 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1145/3290605.3300251 

Zlomke, K.R., Jeter, K. Comparative Effectiveness of Parent–Child Interaction Therapy for Children with and Without Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord 50, 2041–2052 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-019-03960-y 

Scudder, A., Wong, C., Ober, N., Hoffman, M., Toscolani, J., & Handen, B. L. (2019). Parent–child interaction therapy (PCIT) in young children with autism spectrum disorder. Child & Family Behavior Therapy, 41(4), 201–220. https://doi.org/10.1080/07317107.2019.1659542 

Parladé, M. V., Weinstein, A., Garcia, D., Rowley, A. M., Ginn, N. C., & Jent, J. F. (2020). Parent–Child Interaction Therapy for children with autism spectrum disorder and a matched case-control sample. Autism, 24(1), 160-176. https://doi.org/10.1177/1362361319855851 

Support Autism Parenting Magazine

We hope you enjoyed this article. In order to support us to create more helpful information like this, please consider purchasing a subscription to Autism Parenting Magazine.

Download our FREE guide on the best Autism Resources for Parents

Related Articles

Autism Parenting Magazine