Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that may cause individuals to behave, communicate, interact, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The abilities of children with autism can range drastically from having advanced conversational skills to being completely nonverbal. The symptoms of ASD generally include difficulty communicating with others and challenges with behavioral responses. These symptoms can make it difficult for children with ASD to express themselves and establish & maintain relationships. At Solstice Behavioral Health and Consulting in Fairfield County, our dedicated team of specialists practices various communication techniques to find the best way to reach your child and improve understanding on both sides of the conversation. Along with the successful application of ABA Therapy, your child will have the tools and techniques to improve their communication and build the confidence and skills to create friendships and beyond.
Effects of Autism on Communication
As mentioned, ASD affects communication differently for each child, but the most common symptoms include the following:
- Avoiding eye contact
- Lack of empathy
- Repetitive motions & behaviors
- Repetitive self-harm or self-destructive behaviors (hitting themselves or breaking things)
- Failure to notice or incorrectly interpreting social cues
- Difficulty transitioning from one activity to another
- Disinterest in socializing
- Monotone voice
Caregivers and the Solstice team work together to document these behaviors and challenges and find ways to overcome them through different communication strategies that your child can learn and use to improve their interactions and express their own feelings and needs.
4 Autism Communication Strategies
Technicians, therapists, and specialists can use many strategies to encourage your child to communicate. In fact, you have probably already seen some of these strategies work for your child and implemented at home; other strategies may be new. Speak to the Solstice Behavioral Health & Consulting team about the communications strategies that work for your child or even some you would like to try.
1. Using Communication Boards
When a child has difficulty speaking, it can be helpful to provide an alternative. A communications board is a board with images, illustrations, or symbols that enable a child to express themselves simply by pointing at the object. Although traditional boards are made of cardboard with image cutouts, modern solutions include smartphone applications or digital communication boards.
2. Using a Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
A Picture Exchange Communication System is very similar to a communication board. However, it adds a few more possibilities including questions, thoughts, requests, and feelings. When children are fluently using a PECS, it is common that they become more open to other strategies and tools for communication including flashcards and verbal or physical cues.
3. Using Speech Generating Devices (SGDs)
Speech Generating Devices look similar to modern PECS in that they can be used on a smartphone or tablet and are used by pointing and touching objects, symbols, or photos. However, the equipment produces speech after the child has tapped on the image or keyboard. By introducing an alphabetic keyboard along with sight words and photos, your child will practice language basics and be able to communicate more freely than with a board that may not include the words your child wants to share. It can also be used to help your child communicate with other children in a more formal way that is easier to understand. With an SGD, your child can form sentences & ideas that can be easily communicated with others.
4. Using Sign Language
There are more than 1 Million people in the world that use Americal Sign Language (ASL). For the deaf community and others with speech challenges, it is their primary means of communication. Although our ultimate goal is verbal communication, sign language is an equally successful form of communication that can allow your child to express all of their thoughts and feelings without the restrictions of electronic devices. Sign language can be used to share thoughts, feelings, desires, problems, and many other things in detail. It is also a great segway into verbal communication as they can practice speaking as they sign knowing they will be understood.
Not every strategy will be effective with every child. The goal is to find a place of comfort for your child that can help develop their skills and confidence to communicate verbally and effectively. If you have had success using one or more of these strategies or if you would like more information, schedule an appointment with one of our specialists who can find the best tools and treatment plan for incremental improvement and growth.