One of the key features of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is difficulty with communication. Children with ASD can have trouble communicating for many different reasons including being nonverbal, difficulty understanding or using language or have difficulty navigating the social side of communication.

Although communication with children with ASD might be more difficult, it shouldn’t keep you from trying. Communication is a basic human instinct (and right!), so practicing communicating and trying different strategies will benefit everyone involved, even if the communication attempt isn’t successful.

Here are our top 6 tips for communicating with children with Autism.

1.Choose the Right Time

Make sure that you gain your child’s attention first. Use their name and make sure they are listening to you.

Try not to interrupt you child if they are deeply involved in something else. Interrupting routines and schedules can be overwhelming and make communication less successful.

If your child is in a heightened state, this is also not the best time to try and communicate. Instead, wait until you have a calm and quiet moment to engage in conversation.

2. Talk About Their Interests

Children with ASD often have very intense interests. This is going to lead to a lot of conversation about the things your child is interested in. Follow that lead and use it to practice communication. Trying to steer the conversation your way is likely to be unsuccessful. It is harder for children to switch gears and talk about your interests. Stick to what they know and love.

3. Be Patient

Often times children with ASD need extra time to take in what you are saying or, to think about what they want to say in return. Slow down the pace of your conversation and say less. Use key words or repeat important information. Pause more often between words and sentences and try not to use too many questions.

4. Be Clear

Avoid using sarcasm, jokes, exaggeration or rhetorical questions. Often children with ASD take things literally. This can lead to confusion or misunderstanding. It is best to avoid this and speak plainly and don’t embellish your language.

5. Use Other Forms of Communication Besides Just Talking!

Try using visuals, or writing. Tune into non-verbal communication. Children with ASD might not communicate using words so be prepared to switch it up. Try drawing pictures or writing key words. Children with ASD tend to be visual thinkers so this can help them processes and understand what you are saying.

Interpreting and understanding your child’s behaviour is also key to successful communication. Children with ASD who struggle to use language often develop different behaviours to signal what they need or want. Take the time to pay attention and learn what their individual behaviours mean while they are communicating with you.

6. Be Resilient

Communication is difficult. Not every attempt is going to be successful. Don’t take it personally or let you feelings get hurt if the interaction doesn’t go as planned. Keep trying to communicate, the more practice the better.

Your child may also have difficulty showing and expressing their feelings. Even if your child cannot show you how they feel, they need to know how you feel. They need to know you love them no matter what. Go out of your way to continually express your love, care and interest in them.

Children with ASD need extra support to develop their communication skills. Use these tips to communicate with children with Autism. If you have further questions or concerns get in touch with our team at Active Speech Pathology. We are here to help!


National Autistic Society.

Raising Children Network.