After considering the above questions, an intervention program can then be developed to address the child's verbal communicative needs.
After determining if the child is using UVBs for non-communicative and/or communicative purposes, the following intervention strategies can then be tried:
This could be accomplished in two ways: through providing a more appropriate verbal model, and by using visual support strategies, such as pairing a visual symbol with written words that the child can use.
Sometimes the communicative partner may need to respond to the child, using a visual support strategy that the child readily understands, rather than using only a verbal response.
Visual support strategies can also be effective in teaching the child to use appropriate nonverbal social communication skills. One such strategy is to print nonverbal social rules on a card the size of a business card. The child keeps the card in his pocket for an easy visual-rompt reference in social situations: "Look at the person who I am communicating with"; "Stand about 2 feet away from the person"; "Am I talking too loudly or not loudly enough? ", etc.
Typically children develop social communication skills with relative ease. However children with autism need specific and direct instructions in this area, as they do not usually exhibit a natural tendency to engage in social communicative interactions (11). Strategies to focus on increasing a child's verbal discourse skills should be implemented through specially designed activities, particularly those which are highly motivating to the child, as well as through feedback during naturally occurring conversational exchanges (9) & (11). For example if the child is highly interested in "Pokeman", set up activities to focus on social communicative interactions revolving around this theme. When teaching verbal social communication skills, it is important to consider the discourse skills of, and interests of typically developing peers, including topics of discussion. While " Pokeman" might be a high interest topic for a middle school student with autism, this would not be an appropriate theme to use to teach social communication skills with middle school peers. The following strategies can be used to address various verbal social communication (discourse) skills:
Depending on the individual child, dialogue scripts can be visually represented by written words, pictures, picture symbols, etc.. Dialogue scripts can be used regarding normally occurring routines/activities, as well as in contrived situations designed to increase the child's social communication skills in a structured context (11).
Turn-taking cards: A visual turn-taking card is a card with "my turn" printed on it (a graphic symbol can also be used depending on the child's ability to understand various visual representation systems). The turn-taking card is passed back and forth between communication partners to visually represent each conversational partner's turn in the conversation.
Games: Social communication games can be created involving various social communicative directives printed on cards, such as, "Initiate a new topic", "End the current topic", "Ask someone a question related to the current topic", etc. The cards are then placed face down on the table and the students take turns drawing cards and following the communicative direction.
Topic ring: Various appropriate topics to initiate are printed with either graphics, or written words, on a collection of cards (approximately 3" by 2") attached by a metal ring (e.g., "What have you been doing this summer?"; "Have you seen any good movies lately?"). The child can keep these cards in his pocket or attached to his belt loop for a visual prompt regarding appropriate topics to initiate with others. Typically these topics have first been taught in a small group setting, prior to having the child use this visual support strategy in less structured settings.
"Conversational rules" business cards: Conversational rules, such as "Get the person's attention before speaking to him"; "Let the other person have a turn to talk", etc., can be written on small cards for the child to keep in his pocket. These cards serve as visual prompts to help the child engage in appropriate verbal social interactions.