A network to share best practices for children with special needs
The most recent statistics for Autism are startling! There has been a swift rise in cases going from 1 in 150 in 2002, 1 in 125 in 2004, 1 in 110 in 2006, with the most current research from the Centers for Disease Control at 1 in 88 in 2008. Although this is eye-opening research, the researchers themselves are making gains of their own to better understand and treat children with autism (see USA today article for more information on brain research on children with Autism).
One area children with autism sometimes tend to struggle is language and communication. Some children with autism have little to no verbal and language skills while others' language and communication is impaired. Take a look at some of the early warning signs of autism and some great ways to encourage a child’s language and communication early on.
Early warning signs and suggestions for encouraging language and communication:
1. Impaired ability to sustain or initiate a conversation:
Keep your child’s most favorite toys out of reach so that he/she must initiate or “start” some type of communication with you or others to play with the toys. You can also use conversation starters to help get your kids started.
Use visual feedback when working to stay “on-topic”. You can use pictures or objects for your child to hold or look at while discussing the days’ activities. Line each picture or object up on a table at the end of the day and only speak “on-topic” when you are holding or looking at the object to give good multi-sensory feedback while communicating.
2. Impaired ability to make friends and difficulty with social situations:
Teaching social skills through real-life experiences, computer animations, role play situations are great ways for children with autism to experience how to correctly interact with peers. Experiencing the actual act of socialization along with practice, practice, practice can help improve socialization skills.
3. Unusual use of language, stereotyped, and repetitive language
Engage, engage, engage. Keep all children with autism engaged as much as possible, not allowing them to drift off into repetitive, obsessive, or pre-occupied behavior. It is a good idea to re-direct when you see behavior and language that becomes stereotyped or repetitive. Re-directing can be done verbally, or through changing activities.
How do you encourage language and communication?