Parent Training for Non-Verbal Children with Autism

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I have a few kids with ASD on my caseload and they’re all quite severe. I am employed to work with the parents (and other key adults around the child) to provide training on how to work with the child. I’m not really supposed to work directly with the child apart from the assessment and also some phonology work (long story).The aim is to get the parents interacting with their children during naturally occurring daily routines and giving them simple strategies to use so that we’re not giving them tricky therapy activities that they need to do for an hour a day (or something like that) which would place a burden on their already busy schedules. I’d really love some information and ideas on how to help parents etc to increase their children’s communication (receptive and expressive) and interactions with other kids / adults.  All of these kids (ASD) are under 5 years old and are at the stage where they don’t interact with other kids at all and use no words (although they used to speak a little bit).

Parent Training vs. Direct Therapy

  • While parent training is vital to success in children with autism, so is direct therapy time with the therapist.  That’s how the therapist knows what techniques to recommend, they must be tried out first to see what the child responds to.

AAC Evaluation and Trials

  • The speech therapist’s main role in helping non-verbal children is establishing a functional communication system and if speech isn’t going to suffice for that, AAC must be considered.  ASHA backs that up:

SLP Roles and Responsibilities for Working with Individuals with Autism:

  • assessing for the need for and requirements for using augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices as a mode of communication;
  • providing treatment, documenting progress, and determining appropriate dismissal criteria;
  • providing training in the use of AAC devices to persons with ASD, their families and caregivers, and educators;


Should Direct Therapy be Included:

In my opinion, based on the statements made by ASHA, it would be unethical not to do some direct therapy at least to a small extent

The Parent Training Piece:

  • My late talker eBook includes 8 weeks worth of assignments that will help parents learn how to interact in a way that is most likely to promote language development, including the use of sign language: