Complete guide on how to communicate with a nonverbal autistic child

Knowing how to communicate with your nonverbal autistic child can be overwhelming for many parents. With no verbal cues to go by and behaviors that often don’t fit into the framework, you might feel like you’re in uncharted territory. 

But fear not! This comprehensive guide will provide tips, tricks, and insights on how to properly understand and interact with your kiddo. Giving you the tools needed to foster a loving, productive relationship between parent and child. So put aside those stress balls; it's time to get started!

But first, will my autistic child ever talk?

Firstly, to understand why some kiddos are nonverbal, you should consider both medical and environmental factors. Medically speaking, it can depend on language processing speed and comprehension, as well as motor skills used in speech. If a person has difficulty orchestrating these areas in their brain, they may encounter difficulties to form speech. 

Additionally, some people with autism have sensory sensitivities that impede their ability to communicate orally due to associated anxiety or fear of loud environments like crowded rooms or noisy classrooms. Those issues must be taken into account when researching why some autistic kids might present with nonverbal communication symptoms.

will my autistic child ever talk?

Having said that, it is impossible to predict with any certainty whether a nonverbal autistic kid will ever speak. The answer, unfortunately, is often unclear—it depends greatly on the individual person and how early intervention services are provided. While some children never gain spoken language capabilities, others can learn a host of inventive methods for expressing themselves. 

Moreover, even if verbal speech remains out of reach, advancements in technology are making it easier for other forms of communication. For example, sign language and typing have become an integral part of an autistic child’s daily life. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that even without verbal communication, there are still plenty of options available.

How to help non verbal autistic child communicate? 5 Strategies

Navigating conversations and understanding communication can be challenging for nonverbal autistic kiddos. However, there are five main strategies that can be used to help nonverbal autistic kids to successfully express themselves:

Autistic sign language

1. Autistic sign language 

Teaching sign language to nonverbal autistic kids can offer a number of advantages that can greatly improve their lives. Not only does it encourage the development of communication skills, but it can also promote emotional well-being by providing the child with an accessible way to express themselves. 

Moreover, with sign language, parents are able to ensure that the child is not completely isolated from their environment. In consequence, they can use it as a medium for conveying emotions and participating in conversations. 

Additionally, it can even help alleviate frustrations by reducing meltdowns that occur when struggling to express oneself conventionally. Furthermore, it develops cognitive skills through building vocabulary and syntax and encourages critical thinking. Lastly, utilizing sign language is an invaluable tool for furthering social inclusion among children with autism.

2. Speech therapy for nonverbal autism

Speech therapy provides a safe space for nonverbal children to develop essential communication, social and proper behavioral skills. Many autistic children struggle immensely with the process of recognizing, understanding, and using language effectively. 

That said, much can be achieved with consistent speech therapy sessions. Here kids learn valuable tools that help them to better express themselves, understand others and lead full lives. 

Speech therapists also play an integral role in helping parents adjust their expectations depending on different levels of autism. In this way, families are empowered to support their nonverbal kids in more constructive ways toward positive development.

3. PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System)

The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) provides a valuable supplement to the daily lives of people with nonverbal autism. In essence, it helps individuals express their thoughts and wishes without relying too heavily on verbal language. 

How? By using pictures or symbols to ‘say’ something to another person through what is called an exchange process. Thereby giving the conversation power not often made available through spoken language alone.

PECS not only helps develop language skills, but also enhances cognitive abilities and problem-solving capabilities through visual support. In addition, by eliminating speech anxiety, kiddos are able to relax in scenarios where verbal expression would be uncomfortable. Definitely, through PECS, even children who have never been able to speak are finally finding their voice.

communicate with a nonverbal autistic child

4. Non-verbal language

Non-verbal language offers a unique line of communication for nonverbal kids to express themselves in ways verbal communication cannot. As it is not language-dependent, it can be used by anyone, forming a bridge between the person and environment. 

With the right instruction, tactics such as pointing and visual reading cues can help autistic children communicate more effectively. Which, as a result, allows them to remain part of their community and better understand social interactions. Non-verbal resources are also beneficial in helping children learn how to communicate without relying on spoken words

5. Augmentative and Alternative Communication(AAC) systems

AAC can be a powerful tool to bridge the communication gap between kids and their parents, caregivers, and peers. It can include a variety of strategies, such as picture cards or computer-aided technology. This, in turn, can open up opportunities that would otherwise not exist for these children. 

Through AAC, nonverbal autistic children can increase their independence and express themselves more confidently. Additionally, it can also help combat feelings of isolation since it enables them to communicate within everyday conversations. 

Parents additionally report feeling closer to their child due to increased ability for two-way conversations in an engaging manner. Ultimately, through AAC solutions, nonverbal autistic kids gain the power to directly participate in life's activities.

communicate with a nonverbal autistic child

Nonverbal autistic children and communication: Final thoughts

The ability to communicate is something many of us take for granted. However, for nonverbal autistic children, this is a challenge that requires creative solutions. Thankfully, modern technology has made it possible for them to learn sign language and utilize different strategies to communicate. 

Even more remarkable are stories of nonverbal autistic children learning to not only make themselves understood, but also express complex emotions and thoughts previously thought beyond their reach. These inspiring tales prove that there is no limit to human potential when given the right support. So, don’t give up! We’re sure that, with the right help, you’ll be able to connect with your kiddo in unimaginable ways. 

We hope you enjoyed our blog on how to communicate with a nonverbal autistic child! Want to keep learning about how to help your autistic kiddo thrive? Don’t forget to visit our blog!

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