“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” - Quote by Anthony Robbins, speaker, and author.
Verbal communication is a challenge for a section of individuals on the spectrum. Dogged determination and a “never say never” attitude will help you find ways to get your child to communicate. Verbal communication using clear single words as means of expression is among the initial communication skills that need to be imparted to a child on the spectrum. The earlier the better the results turn out to be. This does not have to be vocal communication. We must honour all types of communication that include sign, AAC device, and picture exchange.
Here is how you can inspire your child to form single words:
Believe that each sound uttered or presented by the child is language and not just random sounds / blabbering. Sounds made by your child are an attempt at outreach for affection, nutrition, to communicate distress and so on. The more you show an open mind, the more you will hear and the more you will respond. The responses by the parents / well-wishers such as friends, relatives, and neighbours have a positive impact on the neurons in the section of the brain that deals with language. So be tuned and inspire the child to communicate verbally. Appreciate each small sound and feel the difference.
Respond and celebrate each attempt at vocalization or any adapted way of communication. Positive reinforcement by rewarding each word / sound uttered or attempt to communicate alternatively by them by giving them more of what they want is a wonderful way to encourage them. For example, if they say or communicate a word when getting massaged, then validate it with words of encouragement and massage them more. So, if they vocally respond to something that makes them happy then verbal reward coupled with a physical reward is a wonderful way to motivate your child.
Give a name to the activities / things they enjoy and keep reiterating it aloud when indulging in it. For example, if they have a fondness for pudding or custard, then keep saying its name aloud when feeding them with it. This way they form an association and start to vocalize it. Highlight the name consistently.
Simplify your verbal communication with them by using single words to describe an object or action. This increases the scope of their using these words for themselves.
With the help of certified and experienced professionals, you can motivate your child to articulate or use single words; increase their communicative vocabulary which leads to better self expression and independence. The journey of a mile begins with one step that needs to start as early as possible. Be the advocate of your child’s word skills.