5 Ways to Inspire Your Autistic Child to Initiate Conversations

5 Ways to Inspire Your Autistic Child to Initiate Conversations

Autistic children most times find it very difficult to initiate and maintain conversations.

Aside from the fact that they are still young, they might still find it hard to engage in conversations.

You might also wonder why your child lags behind in social skills and cannot initiate a conversation even though they are highly intelligent.

As a parent, you, therefore, need to inspire your autistic child to initiate conversations.

Initiating conversations is an integral part of social skills both within the home and outside the home.

For young children, it is more important because this is the stage where they begin to form relationships with their peers.

And initiating conversations with them is a good way to create friendships.

Autistic kids may not be confident or reluctant about initiating conversations with others.

You can inspire them to initiate conversations by teaching them how to use conversation starters.

Conversation starters are very useful for initiating conversations in general.

You can also use the conversation starters to guide them on how to initiate conversations.

You can also inspire them to initiate conversations by providing them with step-by-step instructions, through role-playing and other forms of non-verbal communication.

Having conversations about their likes and interests is another way you can inspire them to initiate conversations.

In addition, practice having conversations with them within the home so that they would be able to initiate and maintain conversations anywhere else.

Below are 5 ways to inspire your autistic child to initiate conversations:

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Lauren Day, SWC

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Margot Bean, LCSW

Margot Bean, LCSW

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Joel Harms, MA, LPC

Joel Harms, MA, LPC

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Jenifer Seas, LCSW

Jenifer Seas, LCSW

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Samantha Zavala, LPCC

Samantha Zavala, LPCC

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Katie (Kate) Castillo, MS, LPCC

Katie (Kate) Castillo, MS, LPCC

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Shannon Matlock, LPC, NCC

Shannon Matlock, LPC, NCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
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Melanie Klinke, MA, MFTC, LPCC

Melanie Klinke, MA, MFTC, LPCC

(719) 345-2424

Use Conversation Starters

Conversation starters are useful tools to use to inspire your autistic child to initiate conversations.

They help to initiate a conversation and maintain it.

Conversation starters include open‐ended questions such as; what music do you listen to, what is your favorite movie or book?

You can further provide them with tips on breaking the ice, cues on how to participate in a conversation, and how to engage others.

They can also learn other aspects of conversations such as; the dos and don'ts of initiating a conversation, asking and responding to questions, and taking turns while talking.

They need to also learn that they have to be sensitive to the other parties' feelings and respect them accordingly.

For instance, you have to let them know that while having a conversation, they cannot keep going on and on about themselves or their interests or that they cannot speak out of turn or interrupt a person during a conversation.

Provide Step-by-step Instructions 

Initiating conversations is a skill that can be learned especially by young children.

Autistic kids love structured activities because it makes it easy for them to learn about a thing and adapt to it faster.

You can inspire your autistic child to initiate conversations by teaching them step-by-step instructions on initiating and maintaining conversations.

Make the process repetitive so that they can remember better.

You can also make the step-by-step instructions game-like so that they would find it fun and interesting.

However, ensure you do not bombard them with a long list of steps or rules.

Most importantly, teach your child how to deal with hostile people.

Your child interacts with a lot of kids, and some may be hostile or bully them.

Practice how to recognize such people and how to respond to them.

Also, include how they can report to an adult and what to do if the adult does not take action or does not believe them.

When they are well taught and follow instructions, they become less afraid to initiate conversations with friends or in a new environment.

It would also prevent them from making mistakes or fears of embarrassment.

Through Role-playing Activities 

You can inspire your autistic child to initiate conversations by using role plays, stories, videos, or other visual techniques.

During role-play, make up different scenarios they are likely to encounter, and you can act as a character while your child can practice how they would initiate conversations with you.

You can record these role-plays and review them together afterward.

By doing this, you would help your child to understand different situations and how to behave appropriately.

You can also use the conversation clock.

This helps autistic kids to follow the rules of having a typical conversation.

The clock codes different conversations into different colors and images.

It indicates who is speaking, their pitch and tone, and the colors change depending on the pitch or tone of the speaker.

Since autistic children are not particularly good at reading nonverbal cues, you can also teach them non-verbal communication methods.

They need to know how non-verbal communication works because people use them very often while having conversations.

Teaching your child non-verbal communication methods will help your child to understand the nuances involved in initiating and maintaining a conversation such as; tone, humor, sarcasm, eye contact, and hand gestures.

For example, you can assure them that making eye contact or people making eye contact with them is perfectly normal.

Try this out with them to ensure they understand it and are comfortable with it.

Ask Questions on General Topics 

Generally, people love to talk about what their interests or hobbies are to other people.

They are a great way to initiate conversations with people.

Talking about their interests and hobbies is another effective way to inspire your autistic child to initiate conversations.

You can encourage them to talk about their interests and hobbies to you or to other people.

Genuinely ask them questions about these interests and their hobbies.

This will help to sustain the conversation.

You can also encourage them to join a group of people who share similar interests and get them to discuss these interests with those people.

These would make them confident and inspired to initiate conversations.

Practice Conversation Skills With Them

Lastly, practicing conversation skills with them will inspire your autistic child to initiate conversations.

By preparing them with conversation starters, they become less reluctant to initiate conversations.

For instance, if your child has started school, you can ask them 'how their day went or what subject they enjoyed the most.

You can always schedule a part of the day when you can take out time to practice how to initiate conversations and maintain them.

While you practice conversation skills with them, always reinforce in them that they are capable of initiating conversations.

Praise or reward their efforts towards initiating conversations with you or other people.


An autistic kid may be reluctant to initiate conversations, especially with people who are not close family or friends.

As a parent, you can inspire your autistic child to initiate conversations by using conversation starters, providing step-by-step instructions, role-plays, discussing topics that interest them, and practicing conversation skills.


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June 21st, 2024

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