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5 ways to help your child with communication difficulties be successful in conversations....

Updated: Mar 15, 2018

Conversations can be challenging at the best of times!

It is even harder for children with a diagnosis such as a language or speech delay, Autism, Childhood Apraxia of Speech, Down Syndrome and Global Developmental Delay.

Here are some general tips to help your child with communication difficulties develop their social skills!...

1. Ask less questions. Questions demand a response and assume a particular level of vocabulary and sentence formulation skills without providing children with much support on how to respond....

e.g. Where did you go today? (this question requires knowledge of the name of the place, an understanding of time, and it is a very broad question). If you know the answer already, and your child is struggling to respond, choose a different way to start the'll be surprised at how much this can help!....

e.g. We went to the park today! We played on the swings and on the slide. My favourite thing to do was play on the slide. What was your favourite thing to do at the park?

2. Practise social greetings and introductions in role plays with toys and puppets. Get your child's favourite stuffed toy and start some role plays!....“Hi, my name is ….what’s yours? Do you want to play with me?). Providing a script for your child in a real-life situation as well helps them apply what they have been practising in their play (e.g. If they are looking at another child playing, say to your child "you could say hi, my name you want to play with me?).

3. If your child is difficult to understand, say what your think they are saying. This models the right sounds and words for them to use (e.g. Child= “Me want do out” Adult= ”I want to go outside”). Once you've done it a few times, it'll come naturally!

4. Offering a choice of what your child could say will also help them get their message across whilst still giving them choice and control over what they want to say (e.g. Child: "I want do out" Adult: “I want to go out? or I want to go in?”).

5. Teaching children emotions from an early age is great for building their emotional vocabulary and will help their social skills in the long run, especially with forming lasting friendships. Name emotions you see in others (confused, annoyed, sad, angry, frustrated, scared, worried, bored) and when you see them in your child. Incidental teaching can happen anytime! Try it with characters in books and TV shows (e.g. 'I can see feeling nervous, it's his first day of school').


Eye contact can be a hard skill to learn, especially for a child with Autism. If your child with Autism is not providing eye contact it likely is not because they are not listening, often it is too hard for them to give eye contact and focus on what you are saying at the same time. Try encouraging your child to look at your chin or nose rather than directly in your eyes.

Turn-taking is super important. Practising turn-taking in play from an early age will lay the foundation for your child to learn turn-taking in conversations.

Always sit or stand opposite your child, and come down to their level (i.e. bend down on your knees if they are a small child). They'll instantly feel more comfortable, and won't miss really important facial cues.

This is just a snippet of how to build language and conversation skills. If you would like to know more about how a speech pathologist can support your child with language and social communication difficulties in speech therapy sessions please contact one of our friendly staff who would be more than happy to have a chat!

Eilis Melino

Director, Senior Speech Pathologist

SPOT Paediatrics

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