One of the many joys of every parent and caregiver is to watch their autistic child prosper in communication. If you have an autistic child, it is biologically natural for them to have difficulty with speech and effective communication, which does not disturb them from reaching their full potential. Although interaction with an autistic child may come with some challenges, it is possible to break through them.
How long does it take an autistic child to respond?
Before we answer this big question that parents whose children have ASD always ask, it is important to lay emphasis and explain, especially for those not in the know.
Nonverbal autism symptom that your child experience does not mean your child is unable to communicate. The truth is some people with autism spectrum disorder may never have the ability to communicate through words.
But in this situation in which you desire your child speaks, it is pertinent to state that there is no one-fit-size rule on how long it would take your autistic child to respond.
Nevertheless, there are two things that the ability of your child to respond to speech communication is hinged on. These things include; early speech therapy and the support of family and friends.
Normally, a parent or caregiver would discover that the child may have difficulty speaking from the 12th to 18th month of the child’s life. From that period, the parent or caregiver should make plans to ensure that the child is enrolled in a speech therapy session from preschool and made to always visit a speech-language pathologist.
You would be doing the child a whole lot of good when you begin early.
It has been seen that a child with ASD who started speech therapy early tends to show more progress in communication, and their brain is more developed in that area than a child who started late. If your child is older, it is not too late to take them to visit a speech-language pathologist.
But as we all know, the earlier, the better.
The second point is that to help your autistic child make a response; there must be support from friends and family. How do you come in? By continuous practice with your child.
No matter how seemingly long it might take them to talk, or maybe they show no interest in communication, even if your child has speech therapy regularly, still attempt to ensure that they practice what has been learnt at the sessions.
This invariably means that you have to be aware of what is being taught to work on the same page with your child.
Finally, the truth is that as time goes by. The help of early speech therapy and continuous assistance, guidance, and support from friends and family would give an autistic child an improved rate of time to respond during speech communication.
Certain tips can guide you as a parent or caregiver to help your autistic child to respond and improve their speech communication skills. Let’s take a look at
How to get autistic child to respond
One of the many joys of every parent and caregiver is to watch their autistic child prosper in communication. If you have an autistic child, it is biologically natural for them to have quite some difficulty with speech and effective communication, which, does not hamper them from reaching their full potential. Although interaction with an autistic child may come with some challenges, it is possible to break through them.
How to get an autistic child to listen
Right before you start to get worried about getting a response, don’t you think you need to be able to get an autistic child to listen first? You know, communication involves listening, understanding and response. Besides, it is possible and quite common to find an autistic child avoiding communication at all costs. They may hide from or turn a deaf ear to anyone who attempts to converse with them. Due to all of these worries, here are some tips you could use to grab their attention, to the point that they’ll listen. Hang on there!
1. Throw a question at the child
Questions are one sure-fire way to pique the other party’s interest in a conversation. If the child gives off an aura of disinterestedness, throw a random fun question and the child. The natural response would be to ask you what you said. There it is; you have the child’s attention.
2. Do something funny
This is another way to get your child to listen to you. Do something unusual enough to catch the child’s attention. Once they look at you with interest, you can go ahead with what you want to say. For optimal results, make sure whatever you do is related to what you intend to talk about.
3. Use a secret signal
It takes a lot actually to make this work. However, over the space of interacting with your child, you can establish a secret sign that signifies that you need the child’s attention. Once you can perfect this, it comes in pretty handy if you need the child to listen.
4. Physical contact does the trick, too
If you need to get an autistic child to listen to you, you should try making physical contact with the child. It could be a hold of their hands, a pat on their shoulders—anything to signify the initiation of a conversation. It would be best if you tried to keep this contact throughout the discussion. Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be anything complicated.
5. Make eye to eye contact with the child
You need to look the child in the eye when you want to talk to them. Eye contact draws attention automatically. If you need this to work perfectly, you should do it at the very start of the conversation. Keep it natural, no need to hold back when you need to blink. It helps the child feel relaxed.
At some point, you need to pull out some rewards when a child genuinely listens to you. This is because, no matter what you do, the child is not just willing to listen. In that case, you need to add some reward. Don’t normalize this; it could backfire. It would be best if you only did it once in a while.
Tips for Getting an Autistic child to respond and Improve their Communication Skills as Parents and Caregivers
1. Be ready to be patient
This is the biggest takeaway and the most important of all. Achieving communication with your child with ASD, no matter how seemingly little, requires a patient mind every single time.
Here is why: biologically, it takes them longer to process information. That is how their world is, and as a parent or caregiver, you must fully understand this. As time goes by, it might improve, but you would have to walk the road of full patience.
2. Speech speed
As earlier mentioned in the first tip, children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) process information carefully, so it would be counterproductive to get them to communicate with you if you are speaking too fast or not talking gradually (not too fast-paced).
Two ways to modulate your speech in a way that would be helpful to their comprehension are by pauses and speaking in short sentences.
3. Give ample time to response
This is one reason why you need to take the first tip seriously, as everything is dependent on it. In many cases, your autistic child did hear you. Sometimes, they are occupied in their world, but that does not mean that they didn’t get what you said in many cases.
So, give them time to respond. You do not have to wait on them to answer. In the course of you doing another activity, they might give a response. So, do not put pressure on them to answer or concentrate on them for a long time; it might make them tensed and uncomfortable. Give them space.
4. Do not repeat yourself too much
This is to corroborate the previous tip. In some cases, they did hear you; it just takes a while (which you might not be used to) for their brains to interpret and give them a response. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid repeating yourself to respect them. If you are unsure if they heard you, you can say it a little louder (and gently) the second time.
5. Give them interesting reasons to desire to talk
You can give them a reason to initiate conversations or talk by “luring” them. I would give two examples: one, if you have to play with his Lego or PJ Mask toys or help with dressing up her doll, you could try breaking the routine one day by pretending to be asleep during the usual time so that he can wake you and say ‘play’ or mention the name of the toy to you.
Another example is making a snack like popcorn together for some time (ensure you look out for each ingredient while saying the name out loud). You can decide to hide the oil one day and try to exclude it. That might force them to remind you.
In these situations, nothing can be achieved with force, haste, or command. It is not the child’s fault that they are autistic. Therefore, in anything you do, be patient, gentle, and show love. Your efforts would be rewarded; hang on!