Four Ways to Fast track Communication in a Nonverbal Child

We all want healthy kids. Kids who will come smiling, laughing, crawling, and then the next minute they are talking to us and giggling when we play ‘Peekaboo’ with them. However, this is not always the case. Having worked with nonverbal autistic kids, I have seen denial, and even frustration in the parents of children who are not able to communicate as quickly as their peers or as their parents would want. Most autistic kids have trouble expressing themselves, interacting socially with others, or even being understood in verbal communications. But when it comes to children, we have to accept one thing; you never choose what child you get. No, you just let nature take its course. All you can do is accept the child and see ways in which you can live with them.

Talking of ways in which to live with your autistic kids, I want to look at how a parent can fast track verbal communication in their child on the autism spectrum disorder. So here we go:

1. Get them to playthings that have audio and remove the batteries with time

To build verbal communication in your child, you need to get them toys that have audio systems; speakers and batteries. A good example is the Melissa and Doug Farm Animals puzzle where after matching the individual animals to the empty slots, the child will be rewarded when the animals sound off. Say, for example, that they place the picture of a cow in its right place, they will be paid by the mooing of the cow on the speaker attached.

With time you can remove the batteries so that the child has to sound off when they place the right animal in a slot. This way, they learn to make pure sounds such as a bleat, neigh, moo, or even a quack.

2. Use gestures and build on words from there

From step one, you can proceed to step two, where you connect words with gestures. Say, for example, that you want your child to take a plate, you can use gestures to point at the plate. If they understand that, you can then proceed to mention the word ‘plate’ when you want the child to take the plate. This way, they will learn that the word plate is connected to the object, and when they want it, they will mention it too.

3. Imitate your child’s sounds

As your child tries to speak, you need to encourage them in all ways. Say that they mention ‘plate’ as ‘plat’ do not laugh off at them. Show them that they are right and even imitate their mumbo-jumbo.

4. One word after the other, never two words at the same time

As the kids learn to speak, you need to teach them and expect them to speak one word at a time. Never two words. When they have learnt one word, you can go ahead and use two words and later, use a longer phrase of words.

5. Always wait for responses even if none is forthcoming

When speaking with your nonverbal kid, still expect them to make some responses. Do not have a monologue. Give them time to talk even if they are not going to make any coherent speech. Show them that they are making meaningful communication and go ahead to respond to their chatter.

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Written by Eshter Wells

Esther Wells is a Special Needs Education teacher who has specialized in autism and cerebral palsy. She has been instrumental in creating Individualized Education Program for kids with these ailments as well as devising occupational therapy programs for children with the same problems.

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