When looking at the language we use with our autistic children it is useful to break it down into categories. There are four things on which to focus when you want to use appropriate language with your child.

1. Stay Away from Negatives

One thing to remember is that the subconscious mind does not “hear” negatives. When you tell a child “not” to do something, that child will actually do it because the negative word is filtered out by the subconscious. For instance, if you say to a child, “Don’t run,” the child will only hear the word “run.” It is better to say, “Please walk,” or “I would like you to walk,” or simply, “Walk.”

Depending on how you generally speak to your child, you may have to work hard to change the way you phrase requests. Just try to focus on the positive and minimize the negative. This means that when you phrase requests for your child, you must use positive language and state what the child is to do, staying away from saying what the child is not to do.

2. Break Things/Requests Down

Another thing to remember when talking to autistic children is that they do not have the same level of concentration as an adult or even another child does. For this reason, it is important to break tasks down for them so that they won’t feel overwhelmed. It is so easy for us to just say, “Clean your room,” but an autistic child wouldn’t know where to begin. You need to break it down and ask her to clean up only her clothes. You can even tell her to pick up the clothes according to color. Tell her to pick up the red clothes, then the blue clothes, then the pink clothes. Then ask her to clean up her toys. You will get better results and your child will feel better about it too.

3. Offer Choices

Children of any age need to feel like they are in control of their lives and this need may be even more pronounced in the autistic child. After all, she is trapped within a mind in which she knows she needs to communicate, but also knows she cannot. Autistic children also do not like change, which is a part of life. This must be extremely frustrating. By giving an autistic child the ability to make choices, you can help alleviate some of the frustration of the child’s situation.

The key to doing this is to ensure that the choices are simple, otherwise you risk overwhelming the autistic child, which will very likely cause undesirable behavior instead of preventing it. Of course, there are some things that children simply have to do, but you can make it easier for them by offering choices around those things. For instance, they have to eat, but by offering them a choice of what to eat, they can have what they like and feel good about it. If your child is non-verbal or not very verbal, then you can still offer choices by using pictures of food and having her point to the picture of what she wants. This ability to control one’s life is something we all want and we must value that need in our children.

4. Talk to Them and about Them in a Positive Manner

Your child will be whatever you tell them consistently and your positive message can make the difference between your autistic child growing up to be a functioning adult in a career that she enjoys or an adult that has a difficult time functioning in society. Have you ever met an autistic adult who was happy in her life and career and said that her parents always told her she could do anything she wanted and that she could achieve anything? Well, guess what? She did exactly that. But if those same parents had told that same child that she wasn’t able to do certain things or that something was out of her reach because of her autism, she would very likely not have achieved much of anything. The adult standing before you would likely have a very different life.

If you complain that your child is slow, then she will be slow. However, if you tell her she is smart and that she can do anything she wants, she will take that into her life and you will see it in her efforts at school and beyond. It is important to convey to your child that she is great. When you do this, the child will be great and they will believe they are great.

The key is that when you use the appropriate language with children it becomes a win-win situation for everyone.

Author's Bio: 

Rachael Mah is a Master Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Practioner and Coach. Rachael's passion is to help parents and teachers to coach their children and students to succeed in life as individuals. Please visit http://www.motivateschoolkids.com for details.