Teaching Non-verbal Communication


Teaching non-verbal communication as the foundation for future social language development in young children with autism.


Professionals who design and deliver interventions to toddlers and preschoolers diagnosed with autism will learn the importance of identifying a sequence of pre-verbal skills necessary for future language development by reviewing developmental literature and current research on teaching early social communication skills such as joint attention and gesture use to children with autism.

Audience level:  intermediate


Learner outcomes:

  1. Learn how early social communication develops during normal infancy and toddlerhood.
  2. Learn how the developmental trajectory of early social communication is disrupted in children with autism.
  3. Learn how to use evidence based strategies to develop interventions to remediate specific core deficits in children with autism.
  4. Learn how to implement interventions that target gesture use and joint attention skills to young children with autism.



Early intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders seeks to restore the developmental trajectory disrupted by this debilitating disorder.  Non-verbal social communication is the foundation for future language and social development in typically developing toddlers and therefore should be part of any early intervention program for young children with autism.  Using a developmental framework and current and on-going research on teaching early core communication skills to children with autism, this presentation will illustrate how practitioners can potentially change the trajectory of learning while focusing on non-verbal social communication such as joint attention, eye contact, and gesture use.


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