WHAT CAN PARENTS/ TEACHERS DO TO HELP THESE CHILDREN?
Firstly, you'll have to understand the reasons/intent behind why children might repeat bits and pieces of things they've heard. Just to further clarify, most typically developing children learn sounds, then syllables, then words, phrases and finally sentences. However children with Autism learn language differently - in chunks. They learn an entire sentence or a song related to that situation.
Here are some examples of how to interpret what your child is saying:
1) To request: If your child feels like listening to twinkle, twinkle little star, he might sing the song instead of request it from you.
2) To agree: Mom asks, 'do you want the banana?' and the child repeats 'do you want the banana' to indicate that he actually wants the banana.
3) To start an interaction: He might say 'ready or not, here I come!' if he wants to initiate a game of 'Hide and Seek' with you.
Once you understand what your child is trying to communicate, you can break those chunks into smaller words so that he learns the meaning of single words or short phrases.
For an example, he knows that repeating the sentence 'do you want the banana' will get him the banana. In this situation, after asking him if he wants the banana (assuming he repeats after mom), mom could say 'I want the banana' while handing it to him. This will teach him to use the language he repeated in different contexts.
This can be further modified to include 'I want the ball/cookie/book/train'. So that he learns the meaning of different words using variations of the same sentence.
Interesting, ain't it?
BY - GAYATHRI PRIYA SILVARAJAN, SPEECH AND LANGUAGE THERAPIST FROM ASK THE THERAPIST