How Can I help My Kid To Communicate?
Communication skills are essential to building connections with your children in ways that can help them grow up to become mature and great individuals. Sometimes, this could be difficult when the child is under the ASD spectrum because some communication mediums are barriers due to autism. But there's no reason to fret because all challenges are conquerable. Today, we'll talk about how you can help your child communicate better.
Why can't my child speak?
It is estimated that 33.33% of children under the ASD spectrum can't speak. There are a couple of reasons some children under the spectrum are non-verbal, but to pinpoint the exact cause, you should determine if your child can speak with difficulty or with interference.
There are cases of children with autism struggling to have a normal conversation, but it's not considered non-verbal since a struggle doesn't signify that the child couldn't speak at all. It could very well be that this type of autism hinders a child from speaking correctly based on the disorder itself.
The non-verbal aspect of autism has nothing to do with difficulties in speaking. Instead, it has a lot to do with either apraxia or Echolalia as the disorder worsens over time.
So what are apraxia and echolalia? Let's find out.
What is apraxia?
Apraxia is a disorder that disallows a child to use voluntary movements and gestures despite being willing to do them. In other words, non-verbal behavior is har control due to dysfunctions of the brain.
There are many ways to look at Apraxia, one (1) is the inability to execute facial gestures, which is called orofacial apraxia; (2) ideomotor apraxia is when the child couldn't make responsive movements relative to speech; (3) ideational apraxia is the inability to do multiple movements sequentially; and (4) verbal apraxia which is the difficulty in executing speech movements.
There are many other apraxia disorders to account for, but since we are focused on verbal disorders, these apraxias are the best references for your child's condition. Knowing what makes your kid unable to speak is the first step to diagnosis.
Children love to echo words from parents or other people they hear, but sometimes, this could be a disorder. Echolalia is repeating comments that a child with ASD hears. This could benefit language development for children, as learning a language is done this way, and many physicians recommend this method for growth in learning.
Echolalia can be a sign of autism and is usually developed at around 3 years old. There are two types of Echolalia; the first one is immediate Echolalia when the word is repeated right away or delayed Echolalia when the word is repeated hours or days apart from the first time the word is heard.
Symptoms of non-verbal autism
To understand the diagnosis of non-verbal autism, it's best to know the different symptoms it possesses. The rate of developing symptoms varies from child to child, but usually, the progress can range from 2-3 years after 1-2 years old. There are also many behavioral symptoms present at these ages and as they age eventually, like sticking to a routine that they follow very religiously. Any forms that can disrupt this schedule may cause upsets and tantrums. Other symptoms can be ADD or ADHD, where children can be hyperactive and have attention deficit disorders.
Of course, these symptoms depend on the specific individual, but generally, some are more acute and severe than others. Some may see improvements or degradation in condition as they age, so seeking a physician is always recommended for scenarios like these.
Diagnosis of non-verbal autism
Unfortunately, there is no particular study that identifies what specific autism a child has. There are many phases provided when diagnosing.
When you contact your first physician or pediatrician, they can assess your child. Some tests may be physical assessments, and some may require MRI or CT scans to further delve into the disorder. Either way, there are ways to diagnose someone with ASD, and these are just two of the most common ways doctors do it. Some basic tests to take note of when determining non-verbal autism are GARS-3 and ADOS-2.
Signs that your child might have non-verbal ASD
- Use of grunts and sounds rather than words
- Speaking incomplete sentences
- Not relying on spoken language and instead opting for other forms of communication like sign language
- Prefers written communication rather than speaking
The signs may vary, but it all depends on the child and the assessment from pediatricians.
Ways to help your non-verbal child
Consider these aspects when communicating to your child:
Using symbols, photos, and sign language can help you and your child communicate better. This is an effective method because your child can develop fast reactions and information processing since visual aids are more accessible to comprehend than spoken words.
Outdoor activities and public areas of interest
Please provide your child insight into the world around us. It's best to develop some areas of your child's mind to typically strengthen what works for your child. If your kid likes music, introduce him to musical instruments like the piano, guitar, or violin. Your child with autism may be struggling at one thing, but it doesn't mean the other things they can learn are dismissed.
Here are a few communication mediums you can use to help your child communicate better:
- Visual aids
- Sign language
- Written communication
- Objects and videos
With the technology available, there are many unique ways to communicate between you and your child.
Dos and Don'ts
- Support your child with the challenges ahead. Never lose sight of them for a minute. Always ask teachers and schoolmates how your child is doing in school.
- Give detailed descriptions when communicating.
- Use alternative methods of communication.
- Motivate your child to do what they want to do in life.
- Don't forget to teach them real-life values that they can learn when they get older.
- Don't be ambiguous when communicating.
- Don't be too harsh on your kid.
- Don't deviate from the activities that your child wants to do.
There is no challenge a parent can't overcome, even if it concerns a child with ASD. Just know what you are dealing with and how to communicate well. And most of all, love your child to the fullest. They'll grow up strong and persistent, and all they need is the proper guidance from you to achieve that.