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Individuals with ASD have difficulties with both social communication and social interaction, and this can cause problems 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.  If your child has sensory problems, try and reduce noise, smells and bright lights before talking to them. This will support your child to be able to  focus on what you are saying if sensory distractions are reduced.

People with ASD often have an unusual way with eye contact and some describe feeling uncomfortable with maintaining eye contact. Just because your child is not maintaining eye contact does not mean that they are not paying attention to you. A person with ASD may struggle interpret social cues such as eye contact and body language, so they may not realise that you are addressing them. Start by saying their name and making sure you are in their view before speaking.

Many children with ASD can demonstrate rigid or inflexible attention to activities of their own choosing and find it difficult to transfer attention between activities.  They will often find sharing joint attention with others particularly challenging. Joint attention is the shared focus of two individuals on an object. It is achieved when one person alerts another to an object by means of eye-gaze, pointing or other verbal or non-verbal indications. By following your child’s lead you are more likely to gain joint attention and your child is more likely to be social and interactive on their terms.

A child’s understanding may be restricted to their own interests and they are often on their own agenda so may not follow instructions.  Long questions and explanations can cause confusion for someone with ASD, be mindfuk when using them.  It is important to simplify the language you are using to support your child’s language development.  A child may echo back/parrot what you have said but without understanding the meaning – this is called echolalia. Children with ASD often gain more information from visual clues rather than spoken language. 

Therefore, when giving information or teaching a skill, it is often helpful to use pictures, photographs or real objects. Always check that the child has understood what you have told them. They may need more time to process and understand what you are saying. Pausing frequently and allowing them to think, and allowing a longer time for a response can help.

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