In preschool, the social use of language becomes the most important skill learned. Children go from playing alongside each other to playing together. Children with autism have great difficulty with this and conversation and interaction with other peers is usually a big challenge for them. Whether you homeschool or your child attends public or private school, try some of these ideas when working with your child at home. These small "speech therapy" activities can make a large difference in working with preschool children on the autism spectrum.
Engage yourself in your child’s play by taking turns with whatever activity they are doing. For instance, if they are playing cars, take a turn pushing the car down a ramp and then encourage your child to say “my turn” as he or she asks for the car back.
Play games that your child highly enjoys. Since most autistic children on the spectrum are highly visual, look for a game like Memory or I Spy to play that he or she might really enjoy.
Encourage turn taking by playing games. Taking turns in a game is a great way for your child to prepare and practice conversational turn taking.
Practice phrases that your child may use in school to interact with peers. Practice this by commenting on an activity such as toy animals or blocks.
Pretend play is one of the most common activities that preschoolers enjoy so practice playing at home with your child. Remember to use age appropriate language and have fun playing house, restaurant, grocery store, doctor or veterinarian! By practicing and familiarizing your child with this type of play and language, your child is more likely to be successful when playing with peers.
Preschool autistic children will gain more conversational and speech skills to use with their peers if you the parent work with them at home. Since conversation doesn’t come as naturally to them as it does to other children that are not on the spectrum, it is important to practice with them in the home setting with an eye towards speech development.
If you have any speech delay or speech therapy questions visit me at SpeechTails.com and I can provide answers and advice to your questions.
Amy Reno MS CCC-SLP