It can be difficult for nonverbal children with autism to communicate their need for support. This can lead to stress, frustration, and possible meltdowns. To prevent these occurrences, it’s important to know the dos and don’ts of interacting with a child with autism and the best ways to support them. Parents may face challenges when parenting a child with autism, but this is all part of the journey. It’s up to us to give our children the support they need to succeed beyond childhood.
Here are the best ways to support a nonverbal child with autism.
Simplify Your Speech
Children with autism may have trouble focusing, especially when they’re interacting with someone who uses a lot of “filler” language. Try to shorten your speech and encourage your child to imitate your words. Try to speak mostly using single words. Instead of saying, “Let’s play with the football,” you should say, “Throw the ball.”
While speaking to your child, leave space for them to register what you’re saying. It’s tempting to keep talking when you don’t get an immediate response. However, it’s important to give your child the opportunity to communicate.
Create Visual Daily Schedules
Children with autism can benefit from visual tools and knowing what to expect for the day. Since transitioning from one task to another can be stressful for some children, the best way to support your nonverbal child with autism is to provide them with a visual schedule. This can help prevent anxiety or meltdowns. Use photographs, lists, and drawings to help communicate to your child what they should do throughout the day.
Encourage Play Time
Children learn through playing and engaging in activities. Through interactive play, they will learn different ways to communicate. Try various games and creative activities that your child will enjoy and that promote social interaction. These activities can include interacting with siblings, singing along to songs, or painting.
Imitate Their Behavior
Mimicking your child’s actions and sounds during playtime or bonding moments is the perfect way to encourage verbal communication. This will also boost your child’s ability to copy your actions, understand taking turns, and share emotions. However, make sure that you’re only mimicking positive and playful behaviors.
Focus on Nonverbal Communication
Eye contact and gentle gestures can help build the foundation for communication. Enhance your nonverbal communication, and your child’s nonverbal cues will also enhance through imitation. Use your body and voice to communicate with your child. Exaggerating your gestures, nodding your head when saying yes, or pointing to a toy when the child asks for it can all be beneficial tactics to try.