April is Autism Awareness month and April 27th is National Tell a Story Day, so we are going to tell you why both are great for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Telling stories is important for children and adults because it provides a meaningful way for families to share common experiences and provides learning opportunities in one’s everyday life. Storytelling helps us all bond, but for kids with autism it provides unique learning opportunities. It helps them learn listening skills, can increase attention span, and can develop understanding of non-verbal communication.
Use Gestures and Facial Expressions to Teach Emotions
At Better Speech, the speech language pathologists recommend parents who have kids with autism use grander and more explicit facial expressions and gestures than they might use otherwise. Since kids with autism sometimes have trouble with non-verbal communication cues (such as showing emotions with a frown or smile) we suggest parents also use repetition to teach these cues. When parents repeat stories over and over again, children can start to focus on the facial expressions and body language. Repetition also lets a child see and hear how the emotions in a story and body language are related.
Our Better Speech SLPs recommend: The Pigeon Has Feelings, Too! By Mo Willems.Why? Because this simple book with very little text and great facial expressions on the characters lets kids focus on feelings. You can also let your child watch a read along here on YouTube.
Social Stories for Kids with Autism
Stories can also teach a child with autism life lessons or skills that they might otherwise have trouble learning. There are even special stories that are written for kids with autism which are called Social Stories. These social stories are short descriptions of a particular activity or situation that includes specific information about what the child can expect in a given situation and why.
Social stories can help a child:
- develop self-care skills such as how to wash their hands
- understand how someone might behave a particular situation
- deal with changes to routine such as starting a new school
Oftentimes, speech language pathologists can write a social story for a child when a parent describes a particular situation that is difficult for the child to deal with. You can find social story samples on the Carol Gray website (she created social stories). There are sample social stories on keeping safe, what autism means, stereotypes and more.
If you have questions about how to write a social story for your child or want an example on how to use bigger, better and bolder gestures and facial expressions to teach emotions to your child, you can always contact the speech language pathologists at Better Speech for a free consultation.
Don’t just tell a story on National Tell a Story day but use it an opportunity to tell a story in a new way.
At Better Speech we know you deserve speech therapy that works. We have experts in your needs and assign the right therapist; not just the therapist that happens to be in your area. If you want to find out more about our services, contact us to schedule a free consultation.