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Engagement and communication

Communication can be difficult for some people with autism. They may have difficulties initiating interactions or responding to others. Processing time is often affected so it may take the person with autism longer to react to conversation.

The person with autism may communicate vocally or they may use other systems such as sign or a voice output communication device (VOCA). Find out more about individual communication methods here. Every individual will have their own preferred method of communication, here are some simple things you can do to support them:

  • Observe how the person chooses to interact and how long it takes them to process what you are saying or doing. You can then adjust your communication. You might need to:
  • Use their name to make sure they know you are talking to them directly
  • Make sure any instructions are short and clear to avoid overloading with information
  • Be mindful of noisy environments as this may affect how a person processes information
  • Avoid using figurative language
  • Talk slowly so they have more time to process the information
  • Avoid asking open-ended questions, be clear on what you are asking
  • Use visuals. If the person you are talking to finds visuals easier to understand, try to accommodate this where possible

Download this poster to share in your workplace.

Behaviour is a form of communication. People with autism may display different behaviours to try to communicate their needs, wants or feelings. Some of these behaviours can be perceived as challenging and may affect their wellbeing or the wellbeing of those around them. Understanding why these more serious behaviours occur is an important step to preventing harm and helping to find alternative and more effective means of communication. For more information on behaviour as communication click here.

Communication tips

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