A child with Autism needs to be encouraged to ‘use your words’ for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons are to reduce frustration, give them as much control as they can handle, or make it easier for the parent and professionals to meet the child’s needs and maybe even wants. This can be done with any level of communication.
The term ‘use your words’ is really a term that typical mothers have used with typical toddlers for many, many years. It was used to stimulate some toddlers to talk. It also gave the parent and child something to focus on.
This same term is ideal for parents of children with Autism. Although some children may only have a vocabulary of a few words they can and should be stimulated to use those words. Eventually with the adults help and encouragement those words can become phrases and someday sentences.
We as parents should not continue to respond to our child’s wants and needs without requiring what ever ability to communicate they have. Many parents are able to give an educated guess to what their child with Autism wants quite accurately. Communication is so critical to our child’s success later in life though. It is certainly worth the time and effort to insist on ‘use your words’.
Even if the communication is only a grunt, pointing to a desired item, or using a communication device the time to do it is worthwhile. In this manner the child with Autism is trained to use what he or she has to communicate.
This ability how ever small will help reduce their frustration. This means less yelling and screaming when the parent or professional does not understand. It helps with self esteem when a child can say something as simple as “More meat.” when they are eating and actually get it. It also helps parents figure out what is the matter when the child with Autism is already upset and can point to a body part that hurts or say the part’s name.