Clinical Director, The Growing Minds Autism Program
Steven R. Wertz, M.Div., BCBA, has 27 years of experience in training parents to educate children with autism and other special needs. Steven is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst who has worked individually with over 1,000 children with autism-spectrum disorders. Since 1998, he has served as director of the Growing Minds Autism Program, which he designed in order to train parents to facilitate their children’s recovery from autism-spectrum disorders. Steven has taught the Growing Minds approach to parents and professionals in both Europe and North America. As a senior teacher with The Option Institute’s Son-Rise Program from 1983-1998, Steven created and implemented teaching designs, facilitated groups, provided consultations for individuals and professionals and trained Son-Rise teaching staff. To our knowledge, he is the only individual to have earned certification in both Behavior Analysis (also known as ABA) and in the Son-Rise program, making him uniquely qualified to access and integrate the best of both approaches. Steven holds a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Counseling, and has also worked with at-risk youth, quadriplegic patients and chemically dependent mothers and their children.
How to Get Your Child with Autism to Talk
In this video, autism consultant Steven Wertz describes five things you can do now to get your child with autism talking. This video is for parents of children with autism who are not yet verbal, or who are minimally verbal. This video explains how to identify and assign key words, teach your child those key words, and increase your child’s motivation to talk.
Steven Wertz: Hi, I am Steven Wertz with The Growing Minds Autism Program. It can be very challenging to get your child with autism to communicate with you. Children are affected in a variety of different ways when they have autism and there is various degrees of severity. About 40% of the children who are diagnosed with autism don't speak. We'd like to see that number be a lot lower. As a parent there are some very simple things that you can do to inspire and encourage and get your child talking.
The first one is identify items that are most wanted. What does your child want, this a cookie, to be spun around to have a favorite toy. Identify what they want, then get a keyword.
Buzz for Buzz Lightyear; cookie for cookie, drink for drink. Control access is number two. Control access to your child's favorite items. If your child can just go and get those things for him or herself there is no reason to communicate with you. Put them up, put them in a cabinet. Your child comes to you and asks, wants you to provide drink.
Emphasize the keyword is number three. Now often children are looking and not listening, you want to help your child hear the keyword associated with their favorite items.
So if you're just talking then your child is not going to hear the keyword but if you stop, drink.
Female Speaker: Drink.
Steven Wertz: And then go one, your child will hear that emphasized word. Number four, you need also then to connect that keyword with the primary most wanted experience. So you want to put the drink together with the word drink. You have to connect those.
If your child loves Buzz Lightyear put buzz together with Buzz Lightyear and last and very important, after you've connected the keyword to the item put in a delay. Buzz! And just put in a pause and this inspires and encourages and motivates a child to fill the delay by saying the word themselves.
If you learn these key points as a parent this is the central relationship in your child's life, if you do these simple things daily it can really inspires and encourage and invite your child with autism to speak.