Are you looking for some everyday speech therapy exercises for Autism? Keep reading for therapy you can do at home.
With the current pandemic, parents with special needs children are now faced with continuing therapy services at home. Although parents of special needs children are not licensed therapists, that doesn’t mean parents are no less qualified to provide therapy for their children.
10 Everyday Speech Therapy Exercises For Autism
While these times may differ, your child’s need for therapy hasn’t changed. The good news is that now, your child can continue therapy at home with these ten easy speech therapy exercises!
Engage with animal sounds
Children with Autism often have intense interests in animals. Why not take advantage of their animal love and use it toward speech development? You can include new words and sounds by incorporating animals and their sounds into a daily routine. Plus, your child can match the animal word with the sound of the animal.
Here are some fun ideas for including animal sounds:
- To gain your child’s attention, make their favorite animal sound! Doing this will gain your child’s attention for you to ask a question or prompt your child for an activity.
- Use toys involving animals. Toy barns are perfect for introducing animal figurines and sounds during at-home play therapy sessions.
- Read books about animals. Some examples include touch and feel books with animals and books with sound.
- Use the Speech Blubs app! Your child gets to see another child modeling animal sounds and words. After each exercise, you can use a fun face filter or watch an educational video about the animal!
Teach the word “more.”
“More” is an essential word for functional communication, which is how we communicate our basic needs. Phrases like “I want…” are useful communication phrases. More is a simple one-word sentence that indicates a child wants more of something. Although your child may not be able to speak three to four-word sentences to ask for basic needs, they could say “more” to request something.
To teach the meaning and word of “more,” stop in the middle of the play activity. Wait a little bit, then say, “More?” (In the form of a question). Then resume the same activity. Since consistency is critical when teaching any child a new skill, keep pausing activities, and prompt your child to say more.
For instance: If you’re pushing your child in a swing, let the swing slow down gradually until it stops. See if your child says “more.” If not, ask the “more” question and resume the activity.
You’ve probably noticed your child does better with a strict schedule. Routines are opportunities for you to introduce your child to new speech. If your child is aware that playtime is coming after lunch, then your child may start to say “play” or “playtime” after they finish lunch.
A routine board displayed through pictures is a perfect way to communicate a daily routine to a child with Autism. I started a picture routine board for my son, and he loves it! I made my own by using a clipart with words below it to indicate the action.
For example, a boy eating a sandwich with the word “lunchtime” below it. My son’s favorite card is the “bath time” card. He now points to it and says “bath” to show me he wants to take a bath.
Many children with autism struggle with understanding and reading the emotions of others. This can make it hard to communicate with others. To remedy this struggle, you need to teach your child emotions. Teach them what emotion to display while doing a specific activity and how someone’s face looks with each emotion.
The best way to model emotions is through reading. There are entire books all about emotions. But you can read any book with a general conflict and still model emotions. You can do this by reading a book, and anytime there are emotions displayed by a character, exaggerate the emotion through facial expression and tone of voice.
Here’s an example from one of my favorite children’s books, Giraffes Can’t Dance:
“So he crept off from the dance floor, and he started walking home. He’d never felt so sad before- so sad and so alone.”
Model how Gerald the giraffe is feeling by…
- Lowering the tone of your voice
- Showing sadness in your eyes while reading and looking at your child
- Slowing down your words when reading the second sentence
- Using a facial expression to show sadness
The Speech Blubs app includes a “What a Feeling” section that uses video modeling to teach your child about emotions. Have fun imitating those emotions and talking about them with your little one!
Play the “I Spy” game
I Spy is a guessing game that involves searching for objects around a room another person sees. This game is for children who can respond to questions and developmentally understand how a guessing game works.
Although this game is probably suitable for elementary or middle school children, it’s excellent for expanding vocabulary, word articulation, and critical thinking. To turn this into speech therapy exercises, start giving your child guesses about something evident in the room, like their favorite toy.
“I spy something blue.” (Stare at the blue ball while saying this phrase).
When saying the word blue, slow down and make sure every letter of the word is pronounced. Over time you can begin to increase the difficulty of the game.
Sensory play is about exposing your child to various senses simultaneously. Typically, sensory play is achieved by creating such items as sensory bags, sensory bins, and sensory bottles. This type of play helps a child develop speech through exploration.
- The sand they’re touching is “gritty and cold.”
- A sensory bottle contains objects like “shiny green glitter.”
- The water is “moist” and “moves fast” when poured from one cup to another.
All these words are found through exploring the senses. To turn this into speech therapy exercises, you must ask questions about the sensory play activity or describe what is happening.
For instance: “Can you find the red dinosaur in the bottle?” Then once your child twists or shakes the sensory bottle to find the red dinosaur, help your child identify the red dinosaur by pointing and saying, “There’s the red dinosaur!”
Sorting games are a fun and easy way to teach a child the differences between objects. A child can learn the difference between big and little, colors, and counting through sorting games. This activity opens your child up to learning new words and numbers.
An easy sorting game my child loves is color sorting his ball pit balls. Gather two different colored balls like red and blue, then have your child divide the two colors between two containers identified with a red and blue piece of paper.
According to my son’s autism pediatrician, giving choices is one of the best ways to further nonverbal and verbal speech. When giving choices to your child in everyday activities, consider adding the following tips:
- Give your child two options (this eliminates confusion)
- Show your child each object (a grey shirt in one hand and a blue shirt in the other)
- Slow and articulate your words
Whether your child communicates their choice by pointing or saying either “grey” or “blue” shirt, it’s a success! This is functional communication! Over time your child may begin to develop more words for everyday items.
Exercise facial muscles
Sometimes articulation issues with words are due to poor facial muscle tone. To help with speech articulation, run your child through a series of facial exercises. Try making funny faces and animal sounds at your child and have them mimic your facial expression and sound.
Here are some facial exercises to try:
- Puff out and suck in your cheeks
- Make “kissy” faces with puckering sounds
- Rolling an r sound with your tongue
- Stick your tongue out and make circles
- Try Speech Blubs’ “Mouth Gym” section that engages your child in other fun oral-motor exercises!
Get on the floor and take your child’s lead on a play activity. If your child plays with a truck and makes “vroom” sounds, expand on this sound by saying, “The truck goes vroom!” Doing this opens your child up to new words like “goes” and “truck” while showing your child how to put sentences together about everyday things.
You are your child’s best speech therapist!
Although you may not be a licensed speech therapist, you are still your child’s best speech therapist! The ten at-home speech therapy exercises easily add to your child’s daily schedule. It may seem like all your hard work toward speech development is going nowhere for a while. But be patient!
Your child is listening and learning at their own pace, and one day will surprise you with new speech development. Remember that every communication of a need or want is a success for children with Autism. So, celebrate every little win!