How to Talk to Children With Autism

Connie McKinneyStarred Page By Connie McKinney, 28th Oct 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>General Health>Children's Health

Many people aren't sure how to talk to children who have autism. Here are some tips for understanding what it's like from their perspective and communicating with them successfully.

Speak to Them Naturally


Children with autism may look forward to dessert when you tell them that cleaning their room is a "piece of cake."
They often don't understand idioms and take your words literally. This can lead to misunderstandings and communication problems. But with some practice, it's possible to understand and communicate with children who have autism.
Autism is a complex disorder in which children have problems with social interactions and reading verbal and non-verbal cues. Some children may rock, flick their fingers or open and close doors for hours on end.
The number of children being diagnosed has been rising steadily for more than 20 years. Autism is diagnosed in 1 out of 88 births in America today. For boys, that number rises to 1 in 54. Autism occurs less frequently in girls where 1 in 252 girls is affected, according to Autism Speaks.
You should communicate with children with autism using a natural voice and a friendly smile. Don't yell. They can hear you and understand you.
Don't talk down to them or use "baby voices." The vast majority of people with autism have normal and often above normal intelligence. Treat them with respect and use the same language you would use when greeting anybody.

Don't Force Eye Contact


Many children with autism have problems looking people in the eye. It's just a part of their condition.
However, many people don't realize this and get upset when the child doesn't make eye contact. Don't let it bother you, and don't insist that they have to look you in the eye.
Don't stare at them but do make eye contact, smile and talk to them. Look away every once in a while to give them a break.

Be Literal and Specific


Children with autism take things very literally. If you use an idiom such as "a little bird told me," you may see them looking out the window and searching for the talking bird. Instead, avoid idioms and just say what you mean.
Or just say cleaning your room is easy. Don't say "it's a piece of cake." Keep your language simple and direct.
Avoid vague phrases such as "a long time." Is a long time ten minutes, ten hours, ten days, ten months or ten years?
Avoid certain types of humor such as puns. Children with autism may not understand the play on words. They won't laugh but may stare at you with a blank look on their faces.

Don't Use Questions But Do Use Commands


Part of using good manners is to pose questions instead of commands. For example, you may ask "Can you please pass the salt?" However, a child with autism will take you literally, say yes and then won't pass you the salt.
A better option is to use a command such as: please pass the salt. Then, the child knows exactly what you want them to do. They interpret your words literally and will hand you the salt shaker.
Another way to help children with autism communicate is to use the word "now." Children with autism may not know if you want the salt right now or if you need it tomorrow. Adding the word "now" clarifies the issue.
Remember to speak naturally, literally and specifically to children with autism. Don't ask questions. If you do this, you both will understand each other, and you both should get alone fine.

For more information, go to Autism Speaks

Here is one I did on ADHD
Here is one on helping children with ADHD

Attribution


This article used some information from Autism Speaks
The photos came from Morguefile.
This article was based on my experiences working with children and adults with autism.
This article was rewritten from one I previously did for Yahoo Voices

Tags

Autism, Autism In Children, Autistic Children, Autistic Children Behavior, Autistic Spectrum, Autistic Tendencies

Meet the author

author avatar Connie McKinney
I enjoy exercising, pets, and volunteering as well as writing about these topics and others.

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Comments

author avatar cnwriter..carolina
28th Oct 2013 (#)

I believe these children have their own magic playing inside them..when I see them I speak to them inside and their eyes light up...thank you Connie for your generous spirit.

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author avatar Connie McKinney
28th Oct 2013 (#)

Carolina, I think you are right and that they do have their own magic playing inside them. Thanks so much.

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author avatar Mariah
28th Oct 2013 (#)

Very well done on highlighting this condition Connie, very important points to be made aware of, especially for people like myself and many more, who have no experience or knowledge of how to relate to Autism.
Thank you.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
28th Oct 2013 (#)

You know of what you speak. A very good friend of mine, a vice president of a large marketing firm, has an autistic son and he had to learn many of these things by trial and error.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
29th Oct 2013 (#)

Good,simple, advice. Well done.

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author avatar Connie McKinney
29th Oct 2013 (#)

Mariah, Phyl and Jerry: Thanks so much. I hope I have indeed educated people and made them aware of autism through this article.

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author avatar Delicia Powers
29th Oct 2013 (#)

Very helpful...thank you Connie...

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
29th Oct 2013 (#)

I have not related with children with autism or rather I might not have recognized that they are autistic. Thanks for an insightful post, Connie - siva

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author avatar Connie McKinney
29th Oct 2013 (#)

Thanks, Delicia.

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author avatar Connie McKinney
29th Oct 2013 (#)

Siva, thank you. I hope this contributes to people's understanding and awareness of what autism is.

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
29th Oct 2013 (#)

Beautiful post and informative as well, Very ueful tips for caring for an Autistic child, all teh respect, patience and dedication they need. My congrats my dear Connie and thanks for shairng this interesting piece, BRAVO!!!

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author avatar Connie McKinney
29th Oct 2013 (#)

Fern, thanks for your kind words. One of the things I like about writing is you can share useful information which helps people. At least, I hope it helps people.

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
30th Oct 2013 (#)

Indeed my dear Connie, tis post helps and educates a lot of people, well said and put!

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