Improving Non-verbal Communications in Autism
It is estimated that around 50% of individuals with autism are classed as non-verbal or minimally verbal. Meaning they speak few or no words. Because of this many people wrongly assume that they cannot communicate.
Different communication methods:
- Makaton is a form of using signs gestures and symbols to support and encourage spoken language.
- PECS is a visual way of communicating using picture cards and symbols.
- Sign Language is a way of communicating without the use of spoken language.
How to boost non-verbal communications
There are a wide range of approaches which can be used to help improve communication.
- Encourage interaction by playing games and doing activities they enjoy.
- Increase your own non-verbal communication, exaggerate your body language and expressions, face directly towards them and use good eye contact.
- Use sound mimicking, to encourage more vocalisation, as they may try to copy you and take turns.
- Leave space for them to respond, this gives them plenty of opportunity and increases their desire to respond.
- Simplify your own language to make yourself easy to understand, try just using single easy words which will be easier to process and for them in turn to repeat. If they can speak single words, like “ball” try the one up method – adding one extra word, so “throw ball”, “catch ball” to gradually introduce more language without overwhelming.
For more ideas and techniques see the National Autistic Society’s guide on Communicating. If you need any help and support for someone with Autism, our specialist team of Learning Disability support workers are able to provide a wide range of assistance.
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