How to Decrease Self-Talk in Children with Autism

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1) Increase the child’s awareness of the self-talk

  • Make sure they know they’re doing it and can hear it when they are.  Try recording the child so he can watch himself doing the self-talk.  If he is talking to himself, stop him and ask him if he knew he was doing it.

2) Establish the basic rules for self-talk

  • Write a social story about talking to yourself.  Talk about how it’s ok to talk to yourself (or say things out loud to yourself) when no one else is around or when it’s not a learning time but how it’s not ok to speak when others are trying to learn.  Talk about how to play quietly instead.

3) Practice doing tasks silently during speech therapy sessions

  • Set up opportunities for the child to practice playing quietly (or whatever else he usually talks during).  Explain that you are practicing and that you will help him remember if he forgets.  Do something quiet near him (like read or write) and let him engage in the task independently.  If he starts talking, use a reminder to help him stay quiet.  Keep doing this until he can play independently and quietly in the therapy room during these tasks.

4) Provide reminders and reinforcement in the classroom

  • Along with the teacher, identify a few times during the day when it is important for the child not to talk to himself.  Provide a visual reminder during that time and have either you or the teacher offer verbal reminders when he forgets and starts talking.  Reinforce quiet behavior during these times with some sort of reinforcement schedule.