7 Ways to Help your Autistic Child Communicate

Posted by Jo Ann Schlicker on February 15, 2015

It can be a challenge to communicate with your Autistic child. He may be non-verbal or only babbling or saying nonsense words. He might repeat phrases he hears on TV, especially annoying ads. You think you will never get through to him but all is not lost.

There are ways to connect with your child no matter the level of speech, or no speech at all. 

1. Nonverbal Cues

Sounds, facial expressions, and body language mean something even to the Autistic child. He will learn when you are angry, happy, or loving. You also learn when he feels these things.

2. Gestures

Most people understand gestures. The beckoning finger means come here. Pointing at yourself means me. Pointing at something shows that you want it. Learn to use gestures as you talk to your child. He might connect it to the words you are speaking. If not, he knows what you mean.

3. Fun

An Autistic child is a child first. He wants and deserves to have fun as much as other children do. Life does not need to be grim.

Fun times are a respite from therapy and structure. Some completely free time (but always supervised time) makes him feel unpressured. His smiles and laughter are therapy for the parent as well.  Make time for fun every day.

4. Sensory Sensitivities

Once you understand how he reacts to light, sound, touch, taste, and smell, you can think of solutions to help him.  He is actually communicating with you by his reaction to the senses.

One Autistic boy hated fireworks. The parents and siblings enjoyed fireworks but could not leave him at home. The solution was to equip the child with gun muffs and sun glasses. He tolerated listening to and watching the “boom booms” because they were not overwhelming to him.

Every child is different and when you are alert to what turns him off, you can think of solutions to his particular problems. 

5. Vulnerable Moments

There may be times during the day when your child is more receptive to your efforts to connect with him. It could be just before he falls asleep, when he is tired, after playing, or some other time. Catch your child at a vulnerable moment and talk to him, touch him, or whatever it takes to communicate love and caring for him.

6. Make a Chart

It might help to make one or more language charts of his most frequent wants and activities. If he gets frustrated and grumpy when he is hungry, you could make a chart of foods that he wants.

For instance, cut out magazine pictures of a glass of water, milk, and a few of his favorite snacks. He can point at what he wants.

Take photos of the places and people you see most often. Include photos of the school, grandma, grandma’s house, daddy, your house, car, or whatever. Use them to explain what will happen next. For instance, he will go to grandma’s house and you will pick him up later.
Adapt the charts to your situation and special needs. There are no rules, if they help, they are right for you.

7. Music

They say music is a universal language. Music can be stimulating or soothing. Watch how your child reacts to it. It feels good to march, sway, sing, dance, and jump to music.
Your child might also enjoy using an instrument such as a drum, a triangle, or playing a keyboard. You can make something at home. Talent does not matter, this is doing something together.

He might cringe at one kind of music but try to sing another song.  Some children react to a particular song and want to hear it again and again. Have fun.
You will undoubtedly come up with many of your own solutions to communicate with the child that does not talk.  Then you can share them with other parents.