Introduction to Teaching Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder to Verbally Communicate

Many young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have difficulty learning to use spoken language. Some children may be able to use only single words while others may be able to make sounds. Still others may not speak at all. Communication is an essential life skill that leads to enhanced interactions and improved quality of life. For all young children who have communication impairments, building skills is critical. There are many different modes or ways we can teach a child with ASD to communicate. For example, a child can learn to use sign language, communicate by exchanging objects or pictures, or can use an electronic device with voice output. While all of these are effective and valuable modes to communicate, we will also want to focus on teaching the child verbal communication.

In this Q & A, we will explore how to teach verbal communication to children with ASD. Each child is different and possesses various strengths and skills. Verbal communication may be easier to learn for some children than it is for others. Because of this, verbal communication may be the primary way to communicate for some children while others may use it to supplement other modes. Regardless, the steps to teaching verbal communication are similar for all young children and can be applied to those on the spectrum who are learning to communicate.

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