It is imperative to recognize the early signs of autism, which include but not limited to delayed development of language skills, loss of language or social skills, repetitive behaviors, or withdrawn behavior. The most crucial sign of Autism is the lack of language ability in children suffering from this disorder. However, language can improve with the help of some tips. The lack of language in autistic children has not only social implications but also safety concerns as they may not be able to explain if sick, confused, hurt or scared.
Some autistic children may make some verbal progress, even saying a few words, but suddenly stopped using any language while others may not move out of the grunting noise making stage. Some children who develop language skills become echo laic; repeating the last thing said. If asked, “Does your hand hurt?” They respond “hand hurt” – whether it hurts or not. But it is just the natural progression of learning since when we are teaching a child to speak; we do so by asking them to repeat what is said to them.
There are two types of languages – Receptive (what we hear) and Expressive (what we say). There are few ways by which we can break down the language barrier in autistic children.
Ways to improve receptive language:
1.) Playing one task game: This involves naming the action as you do it and then asking the child to perform it.
2.) Research shows that the audio-visual media including Radio, TV, music and films are great sources of language. Thus, even if the child is not paying attention to these sources, they are still absorbing language from them.
3.) It is essential to talk or read to the child just as one does with a normal child because even though the child may not be able to talk back or reciprocate, yet the sounds are reaching them.
4.) Visual cues can work wonders with these children and pictures or sign language can be paired with the word to stimulate language development in autistic children and they are found to respond well to visual stimulation.
Ways to improve expressive language:
1.) Requesting: The child can be made to ask for what he/she wants. It should be taught gradually, starting slowing with one word sentence like “biscuit” moving on to “biscuit, please” finally teaching the child to speak full sentences, “I want biscuit, please.” The child will memorize it but it will grow.
2.) Picture cards: It is essential to encourage the child show you what he/she wants with the help of word pairing and flash cards.
3.) Don’t rush: It is important to have patience and learn to wait for them to carry out the action. You should give them time to carry out the verbal action that you have asked them. Don’t rush them as it will only increase your frustration.
Thus, if you continuously and patiently keep working with the autistic child, he/she will develop the language.