Ways to Improve Eye Contact and Speech
Topic: Ways to Improve Eye Contact & Speech
Eye contact and speech are often the main developmental challenges a child with Autism has. Eye contact is vital because it means your child is interacting and connecting with you. Also, the more your child looks, the more (s)he will learn and communicate.
Three quick and easy methods for getting eye contact:
- Position yourself at or below your child’s eye level consistently. It’s less eye strain and easier to look at you this way.
- When you give your child an object, hold it to your eyes, so that (s)he must reach out and grab it. You are right there, behind the object!
- Whenever your child does look at you, celebrate him/her for it! Tell them how much you appreciate them looking. (S)he may not know how special it is to you.
Three quick and easy methods for improving speech:
- When (s)he wants you to do something for them (get something from the shelf, tickle, etc.), playfully ask him/her to speak to get it. This way there is a reason to speak. Your child’s motivation is the key here. You can say, “If you want a tickle, say tickle”. (P.S. if you are asking, and (s)he doesn’t say tickle, still give the tickle after a few requests. As parents and volunteers, we want to be user-friendly and make sure being with us a desirable activity.
- Make sure everyone is calling an object or action by the same name. If I call it “drink” and you call it “water” and mom calls it “cup” and a volunteer calls it “sippie”, then your child is trying to learn four different words for the same thing. That’s much more confusing than if we all call it “drink”.
- Be aware of how you speak. Many people run their words together, or speak without enthusiasm. This makes it harder for the child to understand what you are saying (if you run the words together), or the child may be less motivated to listen to your words (if you are speaking without enthusiasm).
With both eye contact and speech, enjoy yourself as you help your child. Your sense of ease as you try to teach these skills is the biggest piece of the puzzle. Don’t rush, just enjoy being with him/her.