Improving communication with autistic children can be a difficult, frustrating, and time-consuming task. But it is a task that you will have to prioritize if you are a parent or a carer for someone on the autism spectrum.
A lot of frustration stems from the fact that parents or caregivers are trying their best to understand the communication pattern of the person on the spectrum — and trying to do so without causing any upset or discomfort.
There are so many ways to communicate, but here are three of the most interesting ways to help you hack your way to better communication with autistic children.
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Assistive Communication Devices for Children with Autism
Hack 1: Emotion charts
Create emotion charts. These are long pieces of paper with different emotions and moods on display, mostly in writing or picture format. Hang the board on the wall and ask the child to show you where their emotions fall on this chart every day.
You can ask the child to identify their mood by letting them put a sticker on the current mood experienced. This will also improve the child’s visual ability to understand their emotions and give you a representation of their feelings.
This makes understanding your child’s mood and emotions much more manageable.
Hack 2: Communicate in pictures
Because autism often manifests as a communication issue, using pictures may be preferable. As many individuals on the spectrum are visual learners, communicating in pictures will facilitate learning and better communication.
Practically speaking, if you are trying to show or explain something, try using small drawings or emojis to portray what you are trying to say. This is a fantastic way to have someone on the autism spectrum visually see what you are asking of them.
Hack 3: Visual charts and reward or “work for” charts
As mentioned above, many individuals on the spectrum are visual learners. For many autistic children, visual reminders are needed to navigate daily living successfully. Visual charts may be one of the best aids to help children on the spectrum complete tasks in a more manageable way.
You can use “work for” charts or reward charts as a visual display when trying to get a child to perform a task or chore. Display the desired item (the child’s preferred reward) on a visual board or chart. For example, this could be a game they love to play or a favorite healthy snack.
Use the chores and tasks you want the child to complete as “work for” items to attain the reward. Illustrate a step-by-step process to make the task manageable for the child. Once chores or tasks are completed, the child can receive the desired item.
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Improving communication with autistic children
These are all very effective ways to communicate with autistic children, but they are not the only ways. There are many more that are also worth trying. So remember, if these ideas are not the best fit for you and the child you are trying to communicate with, keep researching until you find a better way.
By investing time and effort to help your autistic child understand and be understood, you will pave the way to better communication.
Q: How can I help my autistic child communicate better?
A: You can help your autistic child communicate better by using visual aids, such as pictures or sign language, and by creating a structured and predictable environment that reduces anxiety. Additionally, seeking guidance from a speech therapist or autism specialist can provide personalized strategies.
Q: How can the social and communication skills of autistic children be improved?
A: The social and communication skills of autistic children can be improved through structured interventions such as tailored ABA therapy and social skills training. Providing opportunities for social interaction, utilizing visual supports, and practicing patience and understanding are key factors in fostering growth in these areas.
Q: Does autism get better with age?
A: Autism is a lifelong developmental disorder, but individuals with autism can experience improvements in certain areas with age, especially with early intervention and appropriate support.
Q: What causes communication problems in autism?
A: Communication problems in autism are primarily attributed to differences in brain development, particularly in areas responsible for language processing and social communication. Sensory processing issues and difficulties understanding nonverbal cues may also contribute to communication barriers.