Asperger's Syndrome and Communication: Common Speech and Language Traits
Commmunication is a vital part of our lives, and for those with aspergers syndrome, it is a huge challenge.
A pervasive development disorder, asperger's syndrome affects a child's development in many areas: behavior, thinking, socialization, and communication -- both verbal and nonverbal. Here we will examine verbal communication characteristics of children with asperger's syndrome.
For more imformation on asperger's syndrome see:
- Does Your Child Have Aspergers Syndrome: Characteristics of Aspergers Children
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- What it's Like to Have Aspergers Syndrome: A Story
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An asperger's child provides explanation in a lecture- like style.
If you have ever talked to a child with asperger's syndrome you probably noticed the way they communicate is marked by definite differences from other children's speech. The asperger child sounds different, but also approaches the communication task in a different manner. Communication is not a back-and-forth process, rather the child directs communication by controlling it. Let's examine the communication process of an asperger child by what it sounds like and what happens.
What verbal communication of aspergers children sounds like:
- Voice may lack emotion: The voice of an asperger child may sound flat with little if any expression because children with asperger's syndrome often have a hard time defining emotion so they cannot express it in their voice.
- Odd tone of voice: To many people the tone may sound odd because of little variation in pitch or rhythm, perhaps monotone.
- Precise enunciation of words: Many children with aspergers syndrome are perfectionist, so they want the sound of their speech to be perfect and clear.
- May use advanced vocabulary: Big words out of a small child's mouth adds to an authoratative tone.
How the asperger child styles their verbal communication:
- Lecture: Often when the asperger child communicates s/he explains by providing information in a sort of monologue style. Explanantions can end up being very detailed, and the child may become very upset if interrupted.
- Domination: If the asperger child communicates in a back and forth conversation, the conversation might be revolved around their particular special interest with no deviation froom that topic.
- Endless talking: Dominating communication also happens when the asperger child controls communication by not letting anyone else speak and endlessly talking.
- Repeated questioning: A child might choose to control converstaion by asking endless questions, then the child does not have to speak about a topic that s/he has little knowledge about.
Asperger children may use these strategies of communication because they can control communication and decrease feelings of apprehension. Frequently the asperger child is apprehensive because s/he lacks the ability to explain feelings or talk about subjects that s/he does not know about or understand. It is hard for asperger children to use their imagination because they ar very literal and attach meaning to things they can see; consequently, their range of comfortable topics can be limited.
These communication issues exhibited by children with asperger's syndrome greatly affect socialization and how they get along in the world. Learning to express emotion appropriately and communicating effectively can improve one's life greatly.
Early interventions help the asperger's syndrome child. Here are some important tips for teachers and parents to help asperger's syndrome children with communication.
- Teach child about emotions. Talk about what emotions are, and what people do when they are happy, sad, confused, or nervous. Demonstrate, even exaggerate, facial expression, and draw simple pictures to help a child understand emotions. What do people sound like when they are happy? What do they look like? Start teaching about emotions at a young age.
- Teach manners and practice constantly. Saying "please" and "thank you" can start as early as two years old. Praise the child for using good manners. Also, teach the asperger child that interrupting is not polite. Using manners helps socialization and getting along with others.
- Role model behavior and encourage conversation. Talk conversational style (back-and-forth communication) as much as possible with the child, but control the conversation and redirect when the child dominates the conversation.
- Monitor child as s/he communicates with others. As they child plays with a friend, help the asperger's syndrome child communicate with others in a polite and appropriate manner. Don't allow them to monopolize the conversation, and join in the conversation between the asperger child and a peer. Ask questions of both children, and encourage the asperger child to ask the peer questions.
- Encourage play that involves effective communication. Board games involve taking turns, charades involves communicating to someone without words, building a structure like a sandcastle involves cooperation. Activities requiring effective communication help asperger children learn important skills. Don't be afraid to jump and join the activity so you can role-model appropriate communication and behavior.
Although asperger's syndrome is a pervasive disorder, early interventions and therapy help. It is never too early to help the child diagnosed with asperger's syndrome.