Speech Development Blog

Teaching Kids with Autism to Reply to Questions

It’s a situation that parents of children with autism often find themselves in: they know their child knows the answer to a question, but their child still struggles to form a response. 

Fortunately, it’s not an irreversible condition; parents can teach their child to speak and express themselves in front of others. They can start with simple yes/no questions and move on to more advanced topics by introducing questions such as; what, who, where, when.

Begin with Closed-Ended Questions

Start by asking your child fact-based, closed-ended questions. Simple yes and no questions, starting with the words “is this” followed by the name of the item, is the ideal formula. Pick simple, everyday items or, better yet, go with your child’s favorite objects to be the subject of your inquiries. For instance, show your child an apple and say “Is this an apple?”

If your child provides an answer, repeat the answer and then praise him or her. Positive reinforcement like “Yes, that’s right! It is an apple. I like how you said yes. ” not only acknowledges the effort but also encourages the child to continue the behavior. If your child isn’t ready to respond verbally yet, provide him or her with leading hints like “you can say yes/no.”

Apart from asking fact-based questions, ask preference-based questions as well. Use the words “Do you want” while offering an item. Use highly motivating objects to keep his or her attention on the learning session.

Move on to the Basic Open-Ended Questions

Once your child can verbally respond to yes/no questions, move on to basic, open-ended questions. Ease into it by asking “what” questions, such as “What is this?” while pointing to an object. Again, use highly motivating items that will keep your child interested and provide hints as needed. After your child is comfortable in answering the “what” questions, move on to other question forms, such as "who," "where," and "when?" Always remember to use positive reinforcement when they respond.

At SpeechTails, we are committed to providing speech-language pathologists and parents with a selection of tools and resources to help children with articulation problems and speech delays. 

Our earlier published blog post, speech therapy for children with autism, will provide some additional ideas to help your child express themselves and finally the exercises contained in the SpeechTails online speech learning system can also help. 

Contact us today to discuss the speech learning needs of your child.