Can I use Speech Therapy at home with my child; if so, how?
As a parent, the best thing you can do is work in close association with the speech therapist, as well as occupational therapist to find ways to continue doing some vocal, communication, or mouth exercises at home.
Moreover, it is important to be aware of the benefits of speech therapy and keep the therapist updated of the noticeable gains.
You can find below, strategies of teaching communication skills to children with Autism with the help of a visual table.
Pre-linguistic Skills (the skills required for language development)
Receptive Skills (understanding/comprehension)
Expressive Skills: (conveying needs/wants)
Always hold the object or picture card at your eye level while showing it to the child, so that the child looks at the object or picture and then looks into your eyes while you say the name of the item.
Always raise your hand at the child's eye level while asking for any object or picture from the child.
Always gain the child's attention and eye contact towards you and then speak to the child.
To teach comprehension/ understanding of simple unidirectional (one-step) commands.
To encourage production of vocal play sounds.
Teach the child to imitate vocal play sounds like animal sounds and vehicle sounds.
- How does a dog bark? /Bow Bow/
- What does a cat say? Meow
- What does a cow say? Mooo..., etc.
- How does the horn of car sound? /pip pip/
- How does horn of train sound? /kuuu.../, etc.
To teach use of objects to the child using pictures or real objects.
In what do you drink water? Glass
With what do you brush your teeth? Toothbrush
With what do you have bath? Soap, etc.
Nonverbal communication of your child:
Voice accompanied by body languages makes it easier for the children on the autism spectrum to understand. Gestures and eye contact can build the foundation for language development. The usage of gestures should be done in a way so that the child can easily imitate them.
For example, nodding of head, point out a particular items, etc.
Response time of your child:
Allow your child to speak, by giving ample response time. It's a human tendency to feel the need to fill in for your child when s/he doesn't respond spontaneously. However, it is essential to always give your child lots of opportunities to respond, even if the child isn't speaking. When you ask a question see that it is answered by the child verbally or nonverbally.
Commenting about what your child does:
Sometimes to engage with your child, you may direct the activities towards that of your child's interest. While communicating with your child, make it a point to associate vocabulary with his/her area of interest such as narrating what the child is doing, naming the things used by him/her for playing so that he/she doesn't get restless.
Talking to your child about what engages him/her will help him/her to learn vocabulary easier, and help alleviate his/her communication problems with autism. Engaging in a range of activities that are of your child's interest such as: building blocks, floor activities, coloring/painting with constant stimulation from you as a parent can contribute largely to your child's development.
Social interaction/play with your child:
One of the most convenient ways for your child to learn communication is through interactive play and social interaction. This helps in teaching communication skills to children with autism as it provides opportunities for your child to develop communication initiation and is tempted to interact. Some of the activities that you can do with your child is to perform pretend play such as: doctor set/kitchen set pretend play, flipping through a book with your child, playing at the park, engaging your child with peers at the park.
Use of visual supports:
Training the child with visual support can foster speech and language development. Some examples include visual time tables, pictorial representations of animals, numbers, fruits, vegetables. Using picture boards for sorting and matching can assist in developing receptive and expressive language skills.
Reward your child:
Provide a reinforcement to your child when a certain target has been achieved. (Eg: your child has earned 5 stars for the day, reward them with an item of their liking). This will encourage the developing milestones to occur more often and consistently.
These are some of the stimulation techniques that can be used in teaching communication skills in your child with Autism. As parents, you may employ any technique or a combination of techniques to assist your child's language development.