Communication Skills in Autism

  • January 9, 2019

“Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication.

Dr. Wodka explained that ASD “is not a speech or language disorder. It’s a social communication disorder.

Children with autism show delays and deficits in the acquiring language, which range from the almost complete absence of functional communication to adequate language, but problem is seen in use of that language in conversation. They are often non-verbal when initially diagnosed. Any speech if present is usually deviant and limited. The speech of many children with autism appears abnormal and is often described as machine-like, “monotonic,” or “sing-song.”

Some of the major characteristics of autism are abnormal speech patterns.

  1. Repetitive or rigid language
  2. Narrow interests and exceptional abilities
  3. Uneven language development
  4. Poor nonverbal conversation skills

Language Characteristics:

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder may:

  • Appear to have a good vocabulary and a sophisticated command of the language system based on their verbal utterances.
  • In some instances they repeat bits of dialogue heard on television or in the conversation of others. These repetitions may or may not be used in appropriate contexts.
  • Appear to have some difficulty grasping the main idea and drawing conclusions.
  • Appear to have difficulty with WH question forms such Who, What, Where, When, Why, How and others.
  • May primarily attend to key words rather than to the message conveyed by the grammar.

Social Communication

  • Have difficulty seeing another person’s perspective.
  • Give no or minimal eye contact during an interaction.
  • Speak too loudly or too fast unless taught about the needs of his or her communication partner.
  • Have difficulty staying on topic; may be distracted by associations cued by his or her own words or the dialogue of others.

Other Characteristics

  • Have difficulty with fine motor skills, especially handwriting.
  • Become more socially isolated
  • Appear very egocentric in terms of concern for others


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