My child doesn't speak. How do I teach them to communicate?

Following on from our latest blog on communication, we wanted to clarify that you can teach your child to communicate at home, irrelevant of which communication method they use and find most effective.

Your child might be starting to use sign language, or they might be using a picture based method of communication – perhaps Proloquo2Go or something similar.

1.    Firstly. Is your child motivated to ask you for anything? If so great, that’s the first step done. If not, try to adapt the environment slightly. Keep the items that they are most motivated by out of reach, so they need you to get them for you 2.    Don’t try to teach too many requests at the same time. If you are teaching new signs, we would recommend teaching no more than three at time. If you are using a picture based system, you might be able to do a few more, depending on your child, and upon their motivation. 3.    As we have said previously, stick to nouns. Avoid teaching more, please, thank you etc. These words can all be taught later, but initially they just add confusion. 4.    When you have selected the requests to teach, ensure you are confident with the sign you are going to use. Make sure you are ready prompt your child to sign using the same hands in the same way each time. If you are using a picture based system, make sure you have all of the relevant photos ready. 5.    When you see that your child is motivated to gain access to the item, immediately support them to make the sign, and given them access to the item. If you are using pictures, support them to point to the correct picture, and give them the item. 6.    Repeat this for as long as your child still wants the item; repetition is vital in establishing new communication skills. Remember, nobody wants to ask for anything that they don’t want! Make sure you are teaching language at the correct times. 7.    Ideally keep the item out of reach until they would like it again. Try to avoid leaving it out. 8.    The support you provide to teach the language will need to be faded over time. If you have questions about how to do this, please get in touch. This is a skill that it vital to daily life, and a skill that can be taught for ever more. As adults, we still learn new language – we can continue teaching new language to children with autism. If you are unsure of the order in which to teach the language, just ask. If this hasn’t answered your questions, or if it has left you thinking “yes but what if…” then please, contact us. http://earlyactionforautism.co.uk/contact/

1.    Firstly. Is your child motivated to ask you for anything? If so great, that’s the first step done. If not, try to adapt the environment slightly. Keep the items that they are most motivated by out of reach, so they need you to get them for you

2.    Don’t try to teach too many requests at the same time. If you are teaching new signs, we would recommend teaching no more than three at time. If you are using a picture based system, you might be able to do a few more, depending on your child, and upon their motivation.

3.    As we have said previously, stick to nouns. Avoid teaching more, please, thank you etc. These words can all be taught later, but initially they just add confusion.

4.    When you have selected the requests to teach, ensure you are confident with the sign you are going to use. Make sure you are ready prompt your child to sign using the same hands in the same way each time. If you are using a picture based system, make sure you have all of the relevant photos ready.

5.    When you see that your child is motivated to gain access to the item, immediately support them to make the sign, and given them access to the item. If you are using pictures, support them to point to the correct picture, and give them the item.

6.    Repeat this for as long as your child still wants the item; repetition is vital in establishing new communication skills. Remember, nobody wants to ask for anything that they don’t want! Make sure you are teaching language at the correct times.

7.    Ideally keep the item out of reach until they would like it again. Try to avoid leaving it out.

8.    The support you provide to teach the language will need to be faded over time. If you have questions about how to do this, please get in touch.

This is a skill that it vital to daily life, and a skill that can be taught for ever more. As adults, we still learn new language – we can continue teaching new language to children with autism. If you are unsure of the order in which to teach the language, just ask.

If this hasn’t answered your questions, or if it has left you thinking “yes but what if…” then please, contact us. http://earlyactionforautism.co.uk/contact/