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Building Language Skills and Vocabulary in Children with Autism
Autism Language Skills

Children develop their communication skills in a variety of ways. They start small and work their way into more complex language and  strategies of communicating as they grow. Children on the autism spectrum are no different in this regard, though the pace at which they learn may differ. 

It can be difficult to develop your child’s language and vocabulary past a certain point on your own. If you’re enrolled in an early intervention program like ABA therapy, your child can be exposed to plenty of useful strategies for building on their language skills and vocabulary. We’ll break down some of the methodology in this post and provide some tips for building language skills and vocabulary in children with autism.

Functional Communication Training

Functional Communication Training, or FCT, is a treatment for children on the spectrum designed to teach them how to make requests, or mands while building on their vocabulary and ability to use complex language. FCT uses differential reinforcement (DR) to help address problem behaviors while motivating children on the spectrum to use new communication skills to express their needs and wants. 

FCT focuses on teaching your child on the spectrum in a naturalistic way. For example, FCT focuses on teaching your child the appropriate way to communicate a request for the objects they already prefer. Once the correlation between appropriate communication and the desired outcome is made, the child can move on to learn more complex requests, vocabulary and overall communication strategies. While the goal is to increase verbal communication, FCT is not solely focused on talking. FCT is designed to make your child a more effective communicator all-around. This process can include icon exchanges, gestures or even sign language, depending on the child’s developmental needs and the goals set with your therapist.

Building Vocab and Language at Home

Outside of therapy and school, you can work with your child on their language skills and vocab in a variety of ways. Ensuring that your home is a language-rich environment can drastically improve your child’s ability to communicate and learn complex language. Some of the best ways to make your home a language-rich environment include:

  • Reading aloud with your child as often as possible.
  • Using labels and icons to help your child associate words with objects.
  • Engaging your child in conversation as often as possible and with intention.
  • Utilizing positive language more often than negative.
  • Responding to all of your child’s attempts to communicate with full attention.
  • Place language around the house in the form of quotes or labels designed to deepen your child’s understanding of a subject or phrase.

Making vocabulary and communication a priority at home can benefit your child in some amazing ways. If you need support, consult your child’s teacher or treatment provider for more ideas.

The Benefits of Communication

Supporting your child’s ability to communicate will help them become more effective at expressing themselves with you, other relatives and adults, and their peers. This can open a lot of doors for them as they navigate building meaningful relationships or engaging in extracurricular activities designed to help them socialize. On top of that, when your child has access to effective methods of communication, they are more likely to express themselves without problematic behavior. As their understanding grows, so does their ability to learn new concepts and connect with the people around them.

For more ABA and autism related news and tips, don’t hesitate to reach out to us on our contact page, visit our blog, and follow us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. We’re always here to answer your questions and support your family’s needs as best as we can.

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June 4, 2019

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