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Tuesday 21 Nov 2017

Teaching Communication Skills

Kids Sitting and Talking

Communication skills are essential for individuals with autism. If an individual can not communicate their wants, needs, interests, etc., they will be very limited in the opportunities available to them because they will be reliant on others to figure out what they need or interpret what they’re saying for others to understand. For parents it will be important to work with a behavior analyst and an SLP to identify appropriate communication goals, but you can get started with the resources listed at the end of this post.

The first step is to identify the communication goal. There are assessments to be used by professionals and checklists for parents to identify areas in which the individual is having difficulty. Once you’ve identified the specific skills you want to work on, then you need to develop the intervention plan.

Intervention plans clearly need to identify the materials and setting in which the skill will be taught and used, the cue that will elicit the demonstration of the skill, what prompts will be used to help the person learn the skill and the reinforcement strategy that will be used during teaching and then assist the individual in continuing to the skill outside of the teaching environment. There will also need to be a data collection component developed to track progress towards mastering this goal.

Johnny has difficulty initiating with peers, so his parents have determine this is a priority communication skill to teach. He loves playing board games, so they want to teach him to initiate with a peer to play a game with him. They determine the games that will be used (i.e. Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit). Then they determine that this skill should be taught during free-choice at school and during playdates at home. Johnny will be taught to choose a game, choose a friend to ask, approach the friend and ask them if they want to play the game with him. They will use a combination of written and verbal prompts to teach him how to do this. As reinforcement, they will teach him to use a self-management system to track how many times he initiates with a peer, and when he gets 10 points he will earn a special prize. His teachers and his parents will track data on how much support he needs to complete this initiation and how many times they observe him initiating independently.

By clearly defining the skill to be taught, how the skill will be taught, and how his progress will be tracked his team has a plan for how to teach this important communication skill.

DISCLAIMER: This should not be construed as a fully developed intervention plan for teaching this communication skill. This is a very basic example and the procedure described is not defined in the detail necessary for proper implementation. Please consult with your team to develop a plan specifically for your child.

Infant and Toddler Communication Checklist (free)

Functional Communication Checklist

Parent’s Guide to Children’s Speech

Checklist relevant to adolescents and adults

Children’s Communication Checklist (for professional use)

Pragmatics Profile (free – for professionals)

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