Sharing stories makes language learning fun and can really help parents connect with children:

  • Autism can affect the way children react to situations and people - picture books help explain social situations that might make children nervous or scared
  • Children with autism might have a short attention span. Engage them with a fun story, even if it’s just for short periods of time and encourage them to point at and identify or name objects in the illustrations
  • Some children with autism might show a very early interest in reading. Encourage them to explore a range of different books and on multiple platforms
  • If your child likes routine, then stories can really help - they set the scene for mealtimes and bedtimes, and can also be used as a ‘comfort blanket’ in unfamiliar situations
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Autism and sign language

Children with autism might need more help to develop their language and learning skills, and sign language can really help kick-start the learning process.

Sign language is visually engaging. Many signs - such as “drink” - are iconic, visually associated with the object or word to which they relate. This acts as a bridge to speech and language development.

Children with autism may display negative social behaviours, like tantrums and aggression, which are intensified when they cannot communicate their basic needs and wants.Sign language offers them a way to relieve this frustration.

Giving children an additional means to communicate boosts their confidence and self-esteem. Children who can express themselves are more likely to seek out social interactions and enjoy the company of others.

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Jane Vaughan, Director of Education at the National Autistic Society, says: "Stories are an excellent way of helping children and young people with autism to cope in social situations.

"Stories that present information in a literal and accurate manner can prepare children for unfamiliar situations and reduce anxiety by helping them understand what to expect...they can also improve a child’s understanding of a previously difficult or ambiguous situation or activity and can provide them with an idea of how others might respond.

“Many children with autism find it easier to understand the world around them through visual aids. So presenting information in a visual way, such as using pictures, can help to encourage and support their communication, language development and ability to process information.

“It can also promote independence, build confidence and raise self-esteem.”

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