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Conversation skills

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    A common trait amongst people with autism is that they can find it difficult to communicate and pick up on social cues. Here we have some advice and tips to help develop their conversational skills.

    Keep on topic

    Be firm when your child goes off topic e.g. say “We are talking about X now and we will talk about your idea later”. This will help to reinforce that your child has something interesting to say but must wait for his/her turn in the conversation. Use the ‘parking’ strategy-if there is something particular they would like to talk about but it isn’t an appropriate time e.g. the other person may be on the phone, talking to another person etc, then write this on a piece of paper and ‘park’ it by placing it to one side and then coming back to it when appropriate.

    When your child says something, which is not quite correct, don’t correct them but instead, model the sentence back to them in its grammatical form.
    Ask your child to justify choices in order to express opinions and show more independent thinking/problem solving in the situation e.g. ‘Why did you take your umbrella?’; ‘Why was Mary crying?’

    Encourage growth of communication skills with others

    Create opportunities for your child to work with his/her peers on shared projects and activities.

    Encourage your child to interact with a range of adults and peers so that your child can learn to adapt his/her communication style to his/her listener.

    Remind your child to take turns and model ways to repair communication breakdowns, e.g. ask for clarification or repeat the parts of information that your child has not heard.

    Communication skills are important for all children. For children with autism, it is important to encourage cognition and learning in order to engage in social interactions.

    It may be that you are seeking further support with your child’s conversational skills, in which case, we advise that you speak to one of our team.

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