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Language

People with autism tend not to make eye contact or look at people so they find it hard to interpret non-verbal communication i.e. body language and expressions.

Implied meanings are completely lost on them as well as voice tones. They don’t understand sarcasm.

Many autists do not talk or sign but will lead a person to what they want. Rarely do they point and this is something that has to be taught.

Language is often taken literally so you have to be careful how you speak to an autist. i.e. don’t say “Hop in the car” when you mean “Get in the car” and try not to use idioms and metaphors. If your child has done something wrong telling them they are “in the doghouse” will really confuse them.

Often autists use echolalia. This means they repeat language and echo which makes things difficult if you ask them a question or give them choices because their reply will usually be the last thing you said.

It is best not to use open ended sentences like “What book would you like to read?” Instead you should say “We’ll read........"

Similarly you should avoid giving the opportunity of refusal – not “Would you like to sit down?” but “Come and sit down”, and avoid using negatives. Tell your child to “Walk” rather than “Don’t run”.

It is helpful to stress the key words in the sentence and give visual clues and always use clear and simple language.

Autistic children like to be in control so you need to coax and encourage rather than demand. (Bit like husbands really!)