How to Speak to a Person with ASD
- Make sure you have the person’s attention (may be shown with body language or fleeting eye contact).
- Make comments or directions clear and short.
- Write out directions for a reader or draw pictures for a non-reader. Pause after giving directions to allow the person to process the verbal information.
- Give the person choices in the conversation (e.g. “Would you like a sandwich or pizza?”).
- Have the person repeat important information to confirm understanding (e.g. Ask “Where are we going?” after you’ve shared that information).
- Use pictures or drawings to help the person communicate (e.g. pictures of food or activity choices).
- Be patient while having a conversation, giving the person time to answer.
- Try not to talk over or about him with other people around.
Ilana Hoffer Skoff, co-founder of Milestones Autism Resources, wrote an article for Your Teen Magazine Online. Ilana’s daughter has autism —as do one percent of all children in the United States between the ages of three and 17—and wrote about what she thinks parents of typical teenagers should know and what parents of teens with autism should know. You might refer to these suggestions when encountering individuals with autism spectrum disorder and their parents.
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