With the month of May comes not only beautiful spring weather, but also Better Hearing and Speech Month! It is now estimated that 1 in 68 children have autism spectrum disorder. Better Hearing and Speech Month is the perfect time to consider how you communicate and interact with individuals with autism.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by difficulties in communication and social interaction. Speech-language pathologists help children with autism in areas including communication and social skills.
Everyone can play a role in fostering an inclusive atmosphere for children and adults with autism at school, workplaces, local businesses, and throughout our society.
Try using these tips:
- Reach out. People with autism want to make social connections just like everybody else, but it might be more difficult for them. Make an effort to engage the person in conversation or to invite them to participate in an activity.
- Be patient. Give the person additional time to speak and respond. Don’t try to finish the person’s sentence or thought for them.
- Modify your communication. Rephrase what you say if the person doesn’t understand or respond the first time. Use visual cues, or write your message down. Go the extra mile to be a good communication partner!
- Don’t make assumptions. Don’t assume you know what the person wants or what they are thinking. Ask them!
This is a great time for parents to talk to their kids about classmates or friends with autism—how they can include them, be kind, and better understand that despite some differences, they are similar in many more ways than they are different.
Parents who have concerns about their own child should contact a professional. Research has shown that early treatment strongly correlates with better outcomes for children with autism. Parents can obtain free speech and occupational therapy screenings for their children at the Laughlin Children’s Center by calling 412-741-4087. The screening process is brief and will indicate whether a full evaluation is recommended.
Information and graphic obtained from http://www.asha.org/bhsm/.