When we are young, we begin to develop a range of skills that we will then carry with us into adulthood. This includes skills in areas such as problem-solving, relationship-building, and communication. In fact, these skills are often the foundation upon which our future personalities are based upon. However, some children with autism find it harder than others to communicate with their peers and loved ones. This could be due to the fact that they find communication in general difficult or because they are non-verbal. In fact, it is estimated that 40% of people with autism are non-verbal. With that in mind, it is important that you help your child with autism develop their skills in communication so that they can find their voice and reach their full potential.
Here are some simple ways in which you can get started and help them find their voice!
- Practice non-verbal communication. It’s important to remember that not all forms of communication involve speaking aloud. For example, you could communicate with your child through gestures, eye contact, and facial expressions. Incorporating non-verbal communication into your daily life can, therefore, help your child with autism develop the way in which they communicate and ensure they are not left out of the conversation. Furthermore, studies suggest that children (or adults) who may be non-verbal thrive when using sign language as a form of communication.
- Talk about their hobbies and interests. Sometimes, children with autism or related disorders will have special interests or hobbies they are particularly passionate about. Therefore, actively encouraging conversation on these topics is a great way to encourage them to participate in the conversation. Be sure to ask them plenty of questions, as this allows them to share their knowledge with you more thoroughly. Furthermore, you must never interrupt them when they are speaking or try to cut the conversation short as this could have a negative impact on their confidence.
- Consider attending therapy. At Alee Behavioral, we have decades of experience working closely with children with autism and related disorders, helping them to develop a wide range of skills and find their voices. Therapy services, such as Speech Therapy and Applied behavior analysis, can help your child with autism find their voice or develop their communication skills as a whole. As a result, they will begin to feel more confident.
- Encourage them to socialize with their peers. While children with autism and related disorders occasionally prefer to play or explore their interests alone – this does not mean that they don’t enjoy spending time with others – it just means it takes them a little longer to feel comfortable in group settings. However, studies suggest that children develop much quicker when they are surrounded by their peers. As a result, you should find ways for them to play and socialize with other children their age – whether that is through organized activities such as sports or by hosting a playdate at your home. When engaging in active play, children are given the opportunity to develop new relationships and find new ways to communicate – thus helping them find their voice.
- Talk about the world around you. Sometimes, children with autism can develop their language and communication skills by simply listening in on conversations. Therefore, you should try to talk to them as often as possible, using simple and straightforward language. For example, you could describe the view out of the window when you are driving instead of simply sitting in silence. While this does not put any pressure on your child to talk, it helps them learn through observation.