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Helping a Child with Asperger’s Syndrome Communicate

Part of the Asperger’s Syndrome For Dummies Cheat Sheet (UK Edition)

Children with Asperger’s Syndrome or another condition on the autism spectrum often struggle to understand what’s being said to them. To get around this, you can try several different communication styles. First, make your instructions, questions or conversation clear. To make sure you’re communicating clearly, try the following:

  • Speak slowly, and give only one instruction at a time: For example, rather than saying, ‘Go and brush your teeth then get dressed,’ ask your child to brush his or her teeth, then wait until that task is finished before you ask your child to get dressed. The same thing goes with questions. One thing at a time is always best.

  • Avoid sarcasm, metaphors and idioms: People on the spectrum find these really difficult to understand because they tend to take words and expressions literally. So if you want your child to know that you’re keeping an eye on him or her, don’t tell your child that (you can’t put an eye on someone without doing yourself a lot of damage) or worse, say “I’ve got eyes in the back of my head” (how scary!). If you remark that it’s “raining cats and dogs,” expect your child to look outside and be a little confused.

  • Be clear about what you mean, and be concrete when you talk about abstract concepts: This applies especially with things like feelings, which children on the spectrum will have even more difficulty understanding.

  • Be patient and give your child plenty of time to respond to any questions or requests: It will take your child more time to process verbal information than you may expect, so count to ten before expecting a response or before repeating your question.

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