While many children and youth with FASD develop a large vocabulary, they often have issues with both receptive and expressive language. This means they often have trouble understanding what you are saying both verbally and non-verbally, and in turn have difficulty telling you what they need, feel, or want, verbally or non-verbally.
Here are some communication strategies to try:
- Use exaggerated facial and body language to convey feelings and to express such things as “I don’t know” with a big shoulder shrug.
- Use as many visual cues as possible to aid your child’s understanding and to trigger memory.
- Your child may not realize they are supposed to follow instructions given to a group; therefore, always give your child separate instructions using their name at the beginning of the sentence.
- Always refer to all persons in any group by name (not “they” or “them”).
- Always use the same words for the same instructions every time it is given. This helps to place the instruction into your child’s long-term memory.
- Make your point in 5 seconds (10 words).
- Reduce abstract speech. If your child needs to clean a mess, tell them exactly what to do. For example, “put your cars in the car box” not “go clean up your cars”.
- Remember that just because your child can repeat instructions back does not mean they understand them!
Remember, it’s about trying differently not harder. If something does not work, try something else!