Ask Sarah: Interacting with non-verbal people with autism

Sarah Stup


Hello Sarah,

I work with individuals with disabilities to be independent in any way they are wanting to be, and I have a lot of students who are on the autism spectrum. They are each so unique and I wouldn’t change my job for the world. My question to you is, for the ones who are non-verbal, what is the best way to communicate with them?

Thank you for your blog postings as well. I have started reading them and those alone have been very helpful to me and my consumers.

Megan Latter

From Sarah:

Thank you for helping silent, but very real, people with autism to find their voices. Below are suggestions I have to help find your friends who are inside bodies that simply work differently.

Suggestions for interacting with non-verbal people with autism

1. Smile, say “hello,” but don’t try to make eye contact.

2. Try sitting next to them, rather than across from them, to talk.

3. Do not shout. They likely can hear too well.

4. Be not afraid of how they act or react. Stay calm.

5. Place them as real people and assume they understand.

6. Quit finding fault. Do you want to spend time with a critic?

7. Reason with them, but don’t boss them around.

8. Do ask questions to show your interest even if they cannot answer.

9. Use many methods–verbal, signing, pictures, print, offer them typing devices, etc.

10. Allow them to write/draw with pens. Try covering their hand with yours, but allow them to move their hands where they wish.

11. Write them notes.

12. Share lots of information.

13. Read, read, read great books to them.

14. When they listen to music, share if you are enjoying it.

15. Have them join you to hear the news of our Country.

16. Use closed captions on TV.

17. Trust them to be good friends worth knowing!

Sarah Stup, a non-verbal writer with autism who types to speak. Sarah has published several books for both adults and children. She also maintains a blog at www.SarahStup.com


Related Articles


How autistic genius Stephen Wiltshire drew his amazing picture of London's skyline

The quite remarkable talents of the London-born artist Stephen Wiltshire, who was awarded an MBE for his "serv ..

read more

An autistic's reflection on Disney’s Frozen

As I begin writing this, today is a year since Disney’s Frozen was released the day before Thanksgiving. I w ..

read more

On the outside of autism

Just because some people might call me an Aspie, does not mean I automatically agree or get along with everyon ..

read more

Our Support Community


Join our free support community and connect with thousands of other families and individuals touched by ASD. Find out what’s working for others, coping strategies, and life guides from others living what you’re going through now. Click here to join for free!

Resources in Your Area

Looking for autism resources nearby? Check our listings for professionals and services that might help.

Post your services | Help out in general

Events


8th Annual Dan Marino Foundation WalkAbout Autism & Expo, brought to you by Walgreens, presented by Badia Spices
Miami Gardens, FL - United States
Jan-27-2018 - 08:00 am
Join Dan Marino at Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins on Saturday, January 27, 2018, from 8am-Noon for the 8th Annual Dan Marino Foundation WalkAbout Autism &a ..
Go to Event site

view all events