One of the questions I get asked the most is “when will my child speak” or “how can I teach to autistic students to communicate”? These questions inspired today’s post autism communication strategies.
What is a visual learner?
A visual learner is someone who responds well to visual information to understand a subject. Many children with autism are visual learners. By adapting the way we teach to correspond to the visual learning style of children with autism, we have more teaching success.
How can we use the visual tendencies of autistic learners to teach communication and language?
By adapting our learning materials to be visual in nature. Example of visual information are sign language, visual prompts, visual schedules, photo communication binders and more.
What is the difference between communication and speech?
Many people think that communication = verbal speech. In fact, verbal communication is such a small piece of the communication pie. Research shows that the large majority of communication is, in fact, non verbal. The exact percentages are not clear, but it seems that at least 70% of the communication we use is non verbal (body language).
Learning to point is an essential pre-requisite to communication and verbal speech. One of my favorite tools for learning to point is using a simple, printable pointing book. Just print it out and start teaching pointing. Of all of the autism communication strategies included in this post, this is the easiest to teach right away.
2. Communication binder
A communication binder is a wonderful tool for teaching children with autism to communicate.
3. Adapted Autism Sign Language
Research shows the power of using adapted sign language to teach children with autism again and again. In my opinion, as a professional who has taught children with autism in my autism learning center for the past 16 years, I believe it is the strongest tool I have in autism communication toolkit and therefore, the most important of all the autism communication strategies I have included in this post.
4. Real photo exchange
Once your child had learned to point, you will be able to start using a real photo exchange system to teach communication and verbal language. Real photo exchange consists of teaching your child with autism to select a photo of something he or she wants to ask for, such as a favorite toy or snack, and hand it to you to make the request.
5. Visual schedules
Visual schedules are an effective tool for organizing a child with autism’s day, increasing communication and ease in your home or classroom program and decrease frustration.
6. Sensory activities (such as playdough mats)
Children with autism tend to be motivated by sensory activities. I love including them in the programs I use myself and teach parents and professionals to use.
To help you build communication skills in your home or autism classroom, I created the Sensory Communication Workbook for Autistic Learners. Download it and print it out and start using it to teach communication skills, and eventually verbal speech, immediately.
7. A combination of systems
Often, especially in the first stages of teaching communication, you will need to use a combination of communication systems to get the best results.
Which of these autism communication strategies are you using with your child or in your autism classroom?
Do you have something to add to the conversation? Leave your recommendations in the comments below!
More posts to help you on your autism communication journey
Learn to create a Progress Nook for your child at home in 7 days
Receive 7 emails - 1 email each day - for FREE that will teach you exactly what to do, then receive emails once per week with fun learning activities for your child