Communication challenges

Communication skills can vary widely in people with autism.

Many kids who do not have autism can also have trouble with communication.

Here are a few things to know: 

Communication includes 2 sides:

  1. Understanding what people are saying to you: this is called receptive language.

  2. Making your own needs or comments known to others.

Some kids with autism have very good receptive language (they can understand everything) but have trouble communicating what they want to say to others. Make sure that you don't assume that a child who does not speak cannot understand!

Speech therapy can help kids at any age to learn to communicate better.

Whether it's verbal (speaking) or non-verbal, your child can learn strategies to help them communicate their needs and understand others. 

Many kids and adults with autism have unusual speech patterns.

They may repeat words or phrases over and over again. They may blurt out things that are not appropriate. Or they may speak in a rhythm that seems odd. In all these cases, the good news is that they are learning language and communicating. This is a place to start with helping them to communicate more effectively.

Note: repeated speech is called echolalia. Click here to read more about it.

Some people with autism do not talk at all, even as adults.

This is called being non-verbal. But there are many other ways they can learn to communicate. Even as babies, kids can often learn simple sign language to tell you what they want. As they get older they can use pictures. This is why visual schedules and other supports can be so helpful. There are also adaptive communication devices that use technology to help them "say" things by pushing buttons. These are systems that they can learn to use with help from speech therapists.


Click here to learn more about communication challenges in kids with ASD. (It will open in a new tab.)

Sources: VeryWell Health,