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5 strategies to stimulate your child's language

Children are like corn kernels in a popcorn machine. Each kernel or child "pops" when he or she feels ready. Ready to walk. Ready to hold a spoon to eat. Ready to talk. Ready to…

When a child has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), language development often takes much longer to "pop." Fortunately, there are several strategies that parents can use to help boost their child's language skills.

Strategy 1: Play, play, and play some more

Day after day, Antoine sits with his little Benjamin and plays with him. Their games include Mr. Potato Head, toy cars, Lego, puzzles, and more. Antoine encourages his son to play with him and asks him questions. "Which eyes do you want to put on Mr. Potato Head, blue or brown?” "What should we build with the Lego: a house or a plane?"

Strategy 2: Get them to express themselves verbally

Liam pulls his mother's arm to lead her towards the Paw Patrol truck on a shelf he cannot reach. To get him to communicate his need, his mother takes the coveted toy and gives it to him, saying, "You wanted me to give you your truck,” emphasizing the words, “give” and truck." Since his mother combined her gesture with simple words, Liam will eventually learn them.

Strategy 3: Add a dash of madness

Stéphane likes to surprise Laurie to get her to react. For example, yesterday morning when he helped her get dressed, he put her socks on her hands. “No, foot,” she said, laughing. Walking backwards, giving her a fork to eat her cereal... these are the kinds of deliberate mistakes he likes to make to elicit reactions.

Strategy 4: Use short, simple sentences

At first, Marie-Claude used one-word sentences to communicate with Maya. Instead of saying, "I'm cutting carrots to cook a delicious soup,” she would only say, "carrot.” Slowly, she began to make sentences that were just as simple, only a little longer. They went from “carrot” to “cut carrot” to “I am cutting a carrot.”

Strategy 5: Establish a routine with visual support

Ever since Cynthia established a morning and evening routine supported by pictograms, Tom has had far fewer tantrums. Why? Routines give children – especially those with ASD – a sense of security. Every morning, Tom reviews and follows his routine, which is posted in his room: get up, get dressed, go to the bathroom, have breakfast, brush your teeth, and so on. By doing so, he learns the vocabulary associated with his routine.

Several parents also use BiMoo educational tablecloths, both to facilitate meals which can sometimes be tedious, and to facilitate their child's language learning. With themes such as emotions, the farm, vegetables, numbers, safety and more, this tool helps children learn their basic vocabulary.

And when you feel discouraged (yes, we are all allowed to feel discouraged sometimes!) because your child speaks less than the others, just remember: they will “pop” when they’re ready.