5 Engaging School Day Conversation Tips for your Child w/Autism (video)


Well, it’s that time of year again for your kids—Back to school.

Of course, parents—you want to bond emotionally with your child and have conversations especially about new and exciting events like back-to-school, so you tend to request information by asking your child questions like:

What did you do at school today?

What’s new today?

How was school today?

Who’s your new teacher?

What’s your favorite subject?

And so on.

For a child with autism, this is more like a quiz, especially since the responses to these types of questions range from very general and broad, which can be overwhelming and frustrating--- to very specific one-word answers which prevent the conversation from going forward. Since the purpose is to connect emotionally—and not to necessarily gain information—let’s discuss better ways to have conversations to reach your child with autism.

After each step that we will explore, pause a moment to give your child an opportunity to keep the conversation going. If he or she needs more help, continue onto the next step. There are lots of different ways to communicate and many more parts of conversation to consider. These steps are just some suggestions for you to use as a guide.

Here is a scenario for a child with LIMITED LANGUAGE SKILLS:

Step 1. Introduce the topic of conversation

The evening before a school day introduce something like, “Hmm…I wonder what your school lunch is going to be tomorrow.”

Step 2. Use a physical object to look at or touch as a reference

Say something like, “Let’s look at your school lunch schedule,” and show your child the schedule.

Step 3. Guide your child through a fill-in-the blank

Say something like, “Ah, tomorrow’s school lunch is going to be ----.”

Step 4. Provide a model for your child

“Ah, tomorrow’s school lunch is going to be pizza.”

Step 5. Direct your child to retell

“I know that pizza is your favorite food! Tell me how much you love pizza—you say, ‘Mmmm I love pizza!”

INTERMEDIATE LANGUAGE SKILLS:

Step 1. Introduce the topic of conversation

Unpack your child’s backpack together with him or her. You can introduce something like, “I see that you’ve brought home science homework about photosynthesis.”

Step 2. Use a physical object to look at or touch as a reference

Together with your child, look at the homework diagram of photosynthesis. Say something like, “Hmm…I wonder what happens when the rays of the sun touch the plant…”

Step 3. Guide your child through a fill-in-the blank

Say something like, “It looks like the rays of the sun are touching the plant so the plant -----.”

Step 4. Provide a model for your child

“It looks like the rays of the sun are touching the plant so the plant can make its own food. Wow! That’s so cool.”

Step 5. Direct your child to retell

“I think Dad would like you to tell him how during photosynthesis the rays of the sun touch the plant so that the plant can make its own food”

ADVANCED LANGUAGE SKILLS:

Step 1. Introduce the topic of conversation

While reading your child’s teacher-parent home journal, you see that the teacher has written about an incident where your child had a tantrum because he didn’t win a boardgame that he was playing with his classmate, Justin. Say something like, “Mrs. Smith wrote me a note about what happened at school today with your friend, Justin.”

Step 2. Use a physical object to look at or touch as a reference

Point to the words in the notebook and say something like, “You see here—Mrs. Smith wrote something about how you “threw the boardgame on the ground.”

Step 3. Guide your child through a fill-in-the blank

Say something like, “You threw the boardgame on the ground because---.”

Step 4. Provide a model for your child

“I think you threw the boardgame on the ground because you were upset that you lost and Justin won.”

Step 5. Direct your child to retell

“Tell me more about how you were feeling when Justin won the game and what you did.”

Notice how making statements instead of asking questions is more productive for interactive conversation.

Feel free to Email me using the form below to share your experiences with these tips and to ask questions :)

-KKS

Are you eager to help your child communicate better but not sure where to begin?

Hi! I'm Karen Kabaki-Sisto, an autism communication expert for over 20 years.

If your child with autism talks, he or she likely has difficulties understanding and expressing words, gestures, and feelings. I created this user-friendly tool to turn your observations into real insights about:

 

  • SOCIAL INTERACTION

  • BODY LANGUAGE

  • EMOTIONS

  • VERBAL ABILITIES

  • PERSPECTIVE-TAKING
     

Upon completion, you'll instantly receive a detailed report of your child's current communication strengths and weaknesses. Over time, you can make new assessments (as often as you'd like) to monitor her or his progress.

 

Easy-to-follow and so necessary! 

What you will learn...

By submitting your E-mail, you'll receive a link to my FREE Communication Assessment Tool and ideas for overcoming communication challenges your verbal child with autism may be experiencing. I'll also send my personal E-mail address to connect with me directly about your concerns!  ~Karen :)