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Individuals with ASD have difficulties with both social communication and social interaction, and this can cause difficulties in giving information to, and gaining information from your child. Being aware of this and adapting your own communication style will support your child to understand what you are asking them and ensuring you get the most accurate response.

A person with ASD may need support to use and interpret non verbal communication and social cues. People with ASD may find eye contact difficult, we may describe this as limited or fleeting eye contact. Some describe feeling uncomfortable with maintaining eye contact, if your child is not maintaining eye contact it does not mean that they are not paying attention to you.

Try not to rely on your tone of voice, facial expression or eye contact to convey a message as the individual with ASD is likely to miss these subtle ways of communicating. Sarcasm is also confusing as it relies on reading tone of voice, facial expression and then contrasting them with the words being used. Individuals with ASD will find this difficult, and may assume the words used are accurate. So if your child’s hair is looking messy, say this rather than saying it looks lovely and making a funny face.

In a similar way, a child with ASD may not support their verbal communication with body language, facial expression or changes in tone of voice. If they do not use these forms of communication, they may not accurately reflect how they are feeling so be careful not to make assumptions.

“When our son was 17, about six months after his Asperger’s diagnosis, he was just beginning to make sense of what it meant for his past experiences. He told me that he’d always thought I’d been angry with him a lot of the time. Unless I was laughing, smiling or obviously happy then he’d thought that actually I was angry. I felt sad but I started to do two things: I gave clearer facial signals, including smiling much more; and if we were having a conversation about something important or difficult we agreed to tell each other ‘this is how I’m feeling now…’ including, if necessary, saying ‘I am upset and I feel angry.” (Parent)


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