Teaching Language skills

child asking dad for something

Using Language to Communicate to Get what you want

Kids (especially Autistic children) have to be taught to communicate (whether its verbally, with sign language, picture exchange, or tech device). They will often use the least amount of effort to get what they want.
Even typical (non autistic/non special needs) kids will often cry or whine for something if they are not made to communicate properly if that behavior will still get them what they want.

Problem example:
Child wants milk. He whines. Mom knows what he wants, so she gives him the milk.
Child wants to eat. He cries. Mom fixes him dinner.
Child wants a toy. He points to it and grunts. Dad hands him the toy.
Child wants something at a store. He throws a tantrum. Mom/Dad buy the toy.

Even if you know what your child wants, other people may not, and you want your child to learn to communicate (usually verbally) instead of making noises (grunts), pointing (in some cases), crying, or tantrumming to get what they want/need.

Here's what you can do. "Friendly Sabotage": Hold the object/item the child wants, or put it just out of reach and DO NOT give it to the child until they communicate appropriately (whatever is acceptable and Possible for that child whether its talking, using pictures, signs/gestures, etc).
For example. Child wants drink. He points to cup and whines. Mom holds the cup and says "Drink. Do you want drink?" Child nods. Mom waits. Mom repeats "Drink. I want Drink". (Either says what the child should repeat, or waits for child to make request). Child says "Drink/I want Drink" Mom gives him/her the drink.

Another example. Teacher/Therapist/etc is doing a craft with the child. Teacher/therapist withholds the tools needed (markers, glue, scissors) and tells the child to do a task. "Write your name on the paper". When child realizes they need a tool to complete the task, they must ask for the tool first. "I need marker please!" Teacher/Therapist can hold the marker/glue/etc or say the word for child to repeat. "Do you need marker? Ask for the marker/ I want marker, please."

If child cannot talk then use sign language, or picture exchange (your child's therapists/teachers should come up with the best communication system for your child in consultation with parents and observing child's preferred way of learning and his/her abilities already) - consult with your child's speech therapist and special education teacher, as well as with behavioral therapists for more ideas and suggestions and ways to teach this skill.