It is important to avoid giving child or young person with autism complex verbal directions, information and discussion.
Keeping instructions short or giving information in chunks is more helpful.
- When addressing a child or young person with autism it is important to ensure that you have gained their attention before you deliver an instruction or ask a question that is important. Click here for further information about Attention Autism.
- Continually check that the child or young person is listening and understanding what is being requested from them.
- Although many child or young person with autism may not make eye contact with you or the object they may still may be processing the information. If you think the child or young person with autism does not understand what you have said to them following the 4 steps below may be a helpful strategy to employ:
Remember the importance of addressing a child by his or her name first
- Never assume if you say “Jill” to a child, that he or she will automatically respond or, if your tone of voice implies “stop that” or “come here”, that he or she will conform.
- Providing positive instruction – i.e. what you require the child or young person with autism to do rather than what you do not want him or her to do, for example, “Carly, slow down” rather than “Carly, stop running”.
- Alternatively, you could model and shape the required response you require to build understanding, for example, for a younger child, to teach the meaning of “stop”: running on the playground, you could hold hands with the child, say ‘stop’; stop yourself and the child; repeat this until you can fade the handholding and then fade the modelling.