Autism Keys 3: Communication

by | Autism, Parenting, Psychology

Communication comes third, and this is not just speaking, listening, sign language or pointing. It encompasses so many things. There are some fabulous communication devices and apps to help those who can’t freely communicate. There are also people with Autism who learned to type, and have intact comprehension, so portable typing devices are a great method of communication too. A child may look at what they want, pick up a bib or climb into a high chair to say they’re hungry, or scream uncontrollably when overwhelmed.

It’s worth noting that a non-verbal child may be able to understand you quite well. They may not appear to understand, perhaps because they take a while to process what you said, so don’t always assume they can’t, just because they don’t respond.

Even before Taz could demonstrate understanding, or lack of it, I did my best to talk to him as if he understood me. He liked having his picture taken, and I remember telling him one day, (as a 6mo or thereabouts), that he needed to take a nap in his pram to be more settled and happy during his upcoming photo shoot. Surprisingly, he napped with little effort on my part. It was an unparalleled result, so I learned the value of letting him know, despite not knowing if he could really understand me.

Importantly though, some children have impulse control issues, and neuro-muscular control issues that prevent them from following instruction, so be careful not to assume they don’t understand you if they can’t demonstrate it.

If you begin with your one-way communication, they are more likely to engage with you once you help them find a way to communicate. Having two-way communication can really enhance your child’s life. They can ask for what they want, and you can tell them where you are going.

With high-functioning children, communication issues still exist. They might think they have told you something they haven’t, or just seem to expect you to know things you don’t. Letting your child know that you can’t see their thoughts and don’t know what they want unless they put this in words can really help. Being honest with them that you don’t know what they’re thinking, or talking about can help them learn too. I will often say “ok, I hear you telling me this, but I don’t understand where your head is. Tell me more about what you’re thinking. What are you trying to tell me about?”

To this day, Taz’s automatic understanding is that if he knows something, so do others. This is a common issue with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Now that he understands intellectually that this is NOT true, he is better able to communicate what’s necessary, though I still have to keep this automatic assumption in mind in our daily lives.

How would your life improve if you and your child could communicate?
How would your child’s life improve if you could both communicate?
How can you improve your child’s understanding of communication?



The 7 Autism Keys Program is coming soon!

Through Coloured Shattered Glass is very excited to announce that a new online support program for parents of children on the autism spectrum will be launched early in 2018.

If you would like to be one of the first to find out all the details, please register your interest here.


If you would like to discuss the ideas in this post further, tell your story, or share your experiences, please join us on our Facebook page.
Please be respectful of others at all times. We are all on different journeys.

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