Three Tips for Increasing Communication with a Non-Verbal Child

Speech language pathology can help your child!Almost a quarter of people with an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) are non-verbal, meaning they do not communicate using speech at all. However, just because a child can’t talk doesn’t mean they can’t engage in meaningful communication! Take a look at our three tips below for increasing communication with your non-verbal child:

Pay special attention to and encourage non-verbal communication like head nodding or shaking, gestures, and pointing. Children often develop non-verbal behaviors that may not conventionally be used for communication, but mean something specific to them. Pay attention to gestures or scripting (e.g. repeating lines from a television show or movie) that your child uses frequently and see if they happen in any specific situation.

Just because your child is non-verbal doesn’t mean you have to be! Talk to your child throughout your interactions with them. Follow your child’s interest by joining them in an activity, and narrate what you are doing. Use simple, repetitive language, and experiment with the tone and volume that is most likely to engage your child; some children are encouraged by a boisterous tone while others are more engaged by quiet, gentle speech.

Experiment with alternative and augmentative communication (AAC). This can be as simple as basic sign language and gestures or picture drawing in order to communicate wants and needs. There are also a range of high-tech options, including speech-generating devices. A speech-language pathologist can provide an assessment of your child’s strengths and needs and recommend an AAC device that is the most appropriate for your child.

Do you have a child who is non-verbal? What do you do to encourage communication? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

For information on our New York based Speech-Language Pathology services, please call Speech Associates of New York today at (212) 308-7725 or visit our website at and find out how our team of professionally trained and certified speech-language pathologists can help!

© 2015, Speech Associates of New York – All Rights Reserved

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