Communicating with a child who has Aspergers?
If you have a child with Asperger's and you are struggling to communicate with them, then you have come to the right place. In his blog, we will explore Asperger's and communication and how to help you and your child communicate with one another.
Autistic children communicate in different ways
Children with autism spectrum disorder communicate in different ways because no one person with autism is the same. Some children use words. Some children are non-verbal and are unable to speak. Some children are selective mute. Some use noises. Some children use facial gestures or Makaton. Some use communication devices or PECs. Some communicate through behaviour. It is important to remember with Asperger's and communication skills that all methods of communication are meaningful and we should recognise the methods that work best for the individual in order to support them and communicate effectively. methods that might help your child to communicate with you:
Communication strategies to help your child to communicate with you:
PECS stands for Picture Exchange Communication System. Using PECs, or a system similar such as symbol cards or photographs, can encourage communication by exchanging a picture for an object. You can also use the cards to create visual cues, such as what is happening now and next.
Sometimes using a minimal speech approach can be helpful. If you are unsure of what your child understands or if they can be easily overwhelmed, focusing on one or two key words instead of an entire sentence can be beneficial. For example, instead of saying “let’s get our shoes and coat on and get in the car”, you would simply say “shoes - coat - car”.
Communication devices are fantastic for children who struggle to communicate and can be life-changing for them and those around them. There are lots of different language programs available and it is worthwhile speaking to your Speech and Language Therapist to see which one they feel would be best for your child and if there is any funding available towards the cost or even a loan of equipment.
AAC helps to promote independence, social interaction and expand communication skills.
We often speak about the benefits of social stories and they are extremely beneficial if your child struggles with communication. They use short descriptions and pictures of a particular event to help prepare and reassure your child. The story used can match the age and cognitive ability of the child and there are lots of resources online available.
Your child’s paediatrician or school should be able to put you in touch with a speech and language therapist who will have ideas of what communication methods might work best for your child. They will also have access to resources that can help.
Things to remember:
- Be patient and kind. Your child may need time to process what you are saying to them and other factors might make this more difficult, such as sensory issues.
- Use positive reinforcement. Praise, praise, praise, and if it helps - reward too.
- Be flexible - children with Asperger's can find change and adapting to new situations difficult. It might be that you find a method that works for you straight away, it might be a case of trial and error.