How to teach a child with autism to talk




I have written a few posts…..and also have written under the autism spectrum disorders page about what “spontaneous and functional language means”…..and the difference between scripted language and spontaneous language.  Often times parents will tell me that they just want to hear their little one….say what she feels….say what she wants….express her needs….say why she is sad….why she is mad…express her feelings.  For children on the spectrum (in my experience)…..this is such an extreme challange….to be able to make the connection between how they are feeling and the words that are attached to those feelings. 

I worked with this little boy for over a year…he and his mother became attached to my heart….I really gave my heart and soul into every second of my time with him….especially…because the very first day that I walked into his home…and realized he was a little one that was on the spectrum…but did not have a diagnosis yet…and I had to be sure to help this little one and his family get the help they needed.  I had to be sure to lead them carefully in the right direction so he could be on the language path….so he could communicate his needs….and eventually tell us on he feels….and why he is feeling what he is feeling….

Well I do not see this little one anymore…he now is in a preschool program…..I still of course keep in contact with his mother….and she sent me the email below….with her permission I have included her email in this post… made me cry…..tears of happiness for him and her.  Both mom and dad’s names were changed…as well as the child.


Email from June:
Today I took John to OT class. He threw a very big tantrum on me.
He hit and kick like crazy. After that, when I tried to talk to him, I not just remind him hitting is wrong and I also asked ” Why did you hit Mommy? ” For this kind of question, I never think I could get any respond back from him.
But you know the amazing thing happend today. He said: ” Because I hate you. ”  Even though I kept my voice firm, remained my angry face and said ” Don’t say you hate Mommy. It makes me hurt. You can say ‘Because I am angry.’ “
( I am not sure he can understand these words or not.) But at that moment, I told Joe (my husband) that I was so so happy to hear my son said ” Beacuse I hate you.”  It sounds weird to feel happy that way. But I believe you all can understand the meaning of this sentence to us.

I can not wait to share our happiness with you. And thank all of you are alwasy be there with John and us.



You can see from her email above…that for the first time ever….John was able to tell his mother how he felt…and he was able to answer the WHY question….this type of question is one of the most difficult of all the WH questions.  I believe…that this may be a big step in the right direction for this little one. 

This was my email back to my friend June…..

June…your email made me cry…cry because I am happy for you…your son has made the connection between how he feels…and how to use the words to express his emotions.  And in a situation like that…where he was very very upset…it was a perfect opportunity for him to make the connection between emotions and language.  I know that the words may have been hard to hear in the moment…but he truly is trying to say that he is MAD and ANGRY…not at you…but at the situation. Even kids that are not on the spectrum will say I HATE YOU….because they are angry at the situation…but direct the anger to the parent.
This is such a huge step for John…I am so proud of him…and proud of you too…you are such a strong woman…and despite cultural challenges you have shared with me…you still remained strong for your son. 
Would you mind if I shared this story on my blog…as I have a section for autism spectrum disorders.  You and John would of course remain anonymous..but would like readers to see how early intervention and strong family commitment is so important.  If no…no worries at all…
Yeah John! and Yeah June

About Kim

My name is Kim Marino and I have been practicing as a licensed speech and language pathologist since 1993. I work on Long Island providing diagnostic evaluations and services to children from birth to age 21. My experience is vast and am proud to say that I work with children that may present with articulation and phonological concerns, oral motor feeding concerns, Down Syndrome feeding, cognitive rehabilitation, auditory processing delays, receptive language delays, cleft palate feeding and sound development and expressive language delays. Most importantly, I am the mother of four amazing children and am happily married to my childhood sweetheart. I feel blessed to have my four children and so lucky to share this journey in life with my husband. I always had it somewhere in my head that I wanted to develop a blog or a website of some sort so that I could provide families with an additional that parents could help their little ones become a better communicator. And as I was developing this blog....I realized that I also needed to share the stories about my life and my children....and the funny things along the way that help to keep me smiling. Whether you are a working mother or not...finding balance between home, children and life can be a challenge....I hope that my blog helps to bring a smile to your face..and also some tools to help you help your little or big one. I hope you enjoy! Kim
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