Researchers published that even after the age of 4 many non-verbal children with autism can develop language. It is important to remember that each person with autism is unique. The great effort and strategies that work with one child may or may not work with another. There is a myth exists among people that communication is happens always through spoken language. But it is not true. A person can communicate with visual support, assistive technologies, gestures and sign languages.
Strategies for promoting language development in non-verbal children
- Encourage meaningful play and social interactions: Children learns through play and this interactive play can provide a better opportunity for your child to communicate
- Imitate your child: imitate your child’s sounds and play behaviours. Make sure it should be a positive behaviour. E.g. when your child dashes a car with others, you dashes your (but don’t imitate throwing the car). This can encourage your child to copy you, can enhance vocalize and interaction between the child and caretaker.
- Focus on non-verbal communication which exaggerates gestures which communicating with your child. Use both your body and voice for communication. Always use the gestures that will be easy for your child to imitate e.g. focus on both gestures and verbal expression) requesting for needs by saying ‘give’ accompanied with a gesture. Respond to your child gestures and give an immediate reinforcement.
- Wait, listen and observe it’s natural to feel the urge to full language when a child doesn’t immediately respond. It so important to give your child lots of opportunities to communicate even your child is not talking. When you ask a question or if the child wants something, pause for several seconds wait for his or her turn, listen for any sounds and observe the gestures body movements, eye gaze pattern that your child initiate for communication. Always try to simplify your language.
- Follow your child’s interest rather than interrupting your child’s focus, follow your child’s interest. Try to use parallel talk, i.e., talking for your child, which enhances your child to develop language.
- Assistive devices and visual support: assistive devices and visual supports which takes place over a speech output. Use devices and apps with pictures that your child is able to produce words. On a simple level, visual supports can include pictures and group of pictures that your child can use for communicating his or her needs.
Your child’s therapist is qualified to help and use their strategies for your child. Always build up a good rapport and communicate your difficulties with your child’s intervention team.