For today’s post, I sat down with my friend Darlene Gore, a Speech Language Pathologist with over 40 years of experience to give you 7 Speech Therapy Tips to Help Non-Verbal Autistic Children. If you are the parent of a child with autism or other special needs with a verbal delay and you’re looking for legitimate tips on how to integrate Speech Therapy at home, this article is for you!
I didn’t need an autism diagnosis to tell me my son Nathan had a verbal delay. I knew he was behind. My girls were practically born talking and my son Nathan, well he didn’t utter a word until he was three.
For years I worried about milestones he was missing. I felt like there was a deadline for speech. I thought if he didn’t start speaking in sentences by age three we were doomed. I felt behind; depressed and frustrated. I reached out and researched everywhere to find help and hope, but unfortunately I came up short.
If you are a mother looking for support for your verbally delayed child or kiddo with autism, you’ll find help and hope here.
If you’ve been googling how to help my autistic child talk all day I feel you. I’ve been there. I want you to know there’s hope and no such thing as a deadline for speech development.
My son Nathan is six, and he’s still developing new language skills every day so do not ever think it’s too late. There’s no age limit. Don’t put a deadline or timeline on development. You’ll go insane if you do.
No One Size Fits All
There’s no such thing as a one size fits all strategy when it comes to any therapy with autism because our autistic kids are unique. This is one of the more frustrating aspects of parenting a child on the spectrum because you never know what will work for your child until you try it. I feel like I have to tell you that even though you know. I’m sure you’ve heard it 1,000 times by now.
Expert Advice You Can Trust
I asked Darlene Gore, a Speech Language Pathologist with over 40 years of experience to help me out with today’s post.
See, I’m a little concerned about all of the self-appointed gurus out there. Some of them are taking advantage of parents like us, and quite frankly it ticks me off.
Autism parents struggle enough already, the last thing we need is bad advice when it comes to our child’s development.
Parents like you are looking for ways to encourage your autistic child to speak, and you want someone you can trust to give you advice. Now, I’ve got to say I’ll never write anything here without researching it and making sure it’s evidence based, but when it comes to speech and autism I’m looking for a pro.
I bet you are too.
Well, guess what? We’ve got one now with Darlene Gore. I guess it’s fair to say she’s joined the Word to Your Mother Blog Squad.
For this post, I asked Darlene to give us her best 7 Speech Therapy Tips to Help Non-Verbal Autistic Children. Because I know you want to help your child every way you can. What follows is her expert advice.
1. Imitation Use your child’s favorite toy/toys imitating what your child is doing with the toy.
(Imitation of any kind (vocal or gestures) are essential to speech development!)
2. Any sound your child makes during play, imitate him/her each time until your child begins to pay attention to your imitation of his sounds.
Using your child’s favorite toys,(Trucks, Balls, Blocks, Puppets, Animals)
Bombarding your child with sounds of that toy…….
“Roll Roll Roll”.. while rolling truck;
“Wuff Wuff Wuff”…with the dog;
“Meow” with the cat;
Any animal sounds! Do not expect any sounds from your child at this point; just hopefully make him aware that you are making noises while playing with certain toys.
4. After several short playing sessions with your child, focusing on play and sounds.
He may begin to utter noises while playing with a toy. If not, go back and repeat steps #1 and #2 above, and work through to # 4 until your child is making any sound playing with toy/toys.
Note: It does not necessarily have to sound like the sounds you are making with the toy.
Also, if your child does not want to play with a particular toy, use the one he wants to play with.
5. Establish motivation once your child is successfully pairing any vocalization with a toy.
Some parents may prefer edible such as fruit loops, and some may prefer an item such as sticker…….it does not matter.
What IS important is that it’s what he likes…whatever motivates him.
Slowly begin to ask your child to imitate something you know he can do- like clap his hands or blow bubbles. Or gives you a toy you ask for, etc.
As soon as he responds correctly, give a reward.
6. Begin this process with the toy/sound play; any imitation child does of you playing and making sounds with toys, reward.
The ability to imitate is paramount to any speech/language treatment.
7. The six steps above may take months!
Every child is different!
Once imitation is established, it can be generalized to every activity during the day.
*We are not looking at speech intelligibility at this point……any vocalization is rewarded when it’s imitated.
The next step would be moving from favorite toys of the child to everyday objects he is familiar with….cup, toothbrush, bowl, comb, etc. Preferably one syllable items.
Place 2 objects in front of the child and ask him to hand you________.
Reward when he gives you correct object.
This way you know he hears right word for that object.
At this point, begin shaping imitation of the word…. helpful to work using a mirror.
The goal is for your child to imitate word using the correct initial sound of the word.
All of these exercises will take a great deal of patience on your end. If you’re able to get Speech Therapy for your child with autism or verbal delay then please make an appointment today! Many people get confused about speech therapy and feel like it’s a waste if their child is non-verbal, but that is simply not the case! A good speech therapist who’s trained to work with special needs kids can help develop communication in verbally delayed children.
If you are interested in getting more tips and advice on encouraging speech, please sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Pinterest!
If you are looking for great developmental toys for special needs kids, check out the toy guide that Darlene and I put together in December. You’ll find all kinds of fabulous toys to engage your child!