Autism Grunts Instead Of Talking

Written By Autism Parents

A collection of parents navigating our way around raising children with autism

Autism Grunts Instead Of Talking

For parents in our position, life can present some unexpected challenges, one that sometimes arises is a child with autism who grunts instead of talking.

In this article we dig into the behaviour and provide some tactics you can try to transition into words.

Grunting as a communication method

Some behaviours we experience are baffling, leaving all of us scratching our heads as to what is the logic behind them.

For some autistic children however, grunting may become a predominant form of expression of communication.

This raises a plethora of questions and concerns for their parents and teachers.

A positive

Ever the optimists it may be worth pointing out that any verbal expression is viewed by many as a step towards speech.

By opting to grunt, a child with autism could be trying to vocalise thoughts which are in their head.

Although it sounds to everyone else as a grunt it could well mean something to them, a message they want to convey.

Whilst yes, naturally all parents strive for perfect elocution with autism sometimes it is a case of one step at a time.

Do you have a child with autism who grunts instead of talking?

Why do they grunt

Well this is the million dollar question isn’t it.

As much as we would like to give you that clarity, anyone providing a definitive answer without spending time with your child would be guessing.

Even if a speech therapist observed your child for hours on end there would still be guess work involved.

What is known is that expressing yourself through speech requires a complex interplay of mental and motor skills.

Autistic children may struggle with the fine motor control necessary for clear articulation. This is the real intricate movements of our tongue, mouth and vocal cords.

These are skills which we all take for granted on a daily basis.

Naturally these struggles may cause frustration when their efforts to speak don’t match their thoughts.

Grunting might serve as a way to communicate without the same level of motor coordination required for speech.

Social difficulties in play?

Communication is a two-way street that involves not just speaking, but also understanding concepts of conversations.

Autistic children often face difficulties in reading and interpreting social cues in conversations.

This could be something as simple as a pause when someone is prompting a response.

Struggles lead to misunderstandings and a preference for more direct forms of communication.

This can be something such as taking your hand to lead you to a cupboard or door.

Grunting, in its simplicity, may serve as a straightforward attempt to convey a need.

Almost like an alternative to taking your hand.

What can parents do?

The goal here for anyone reading would be to transition from grunts to speech. Here are some tips to help you on that journey;

Model clear speech

Consistently model spoken language for your child.

Narrate your actions, describe objects, and engage in simple conversations. Opportunities would take place all day every day.

Something like a supermarket trip is perfect for introducing every item before placing it in your cart/trolly.

Always use clear and concise language, and give your child time to process before moving on.

Try and interpret what they are saying

If it appears that your child is trying to communicate with a grunt then use that communication.

Say for example the grunt is directed at a door which you think they are asking to be opened.

Take time to say clearly “open door”, whilst having their attention before complying.

Expand their vocabulary

The transition from a grunt to clear words may take a few steps.

One thing which you can try and use to bridge the gap is something like animal noises. Consider playing singing games with your child such as ‘Old McDonald’.

Some visual supports may help you here such as this hand puppet on Amazon.

If you can capture and keep your child’s interest in a song then pause just before an ‘Oink’ or a ‘Moo’ then it may prompt them to fill the void.

Try alternative forms of communication

Different ways of communicating such as through basic sign language or pictures can be a gateway to speech.

If your child learns that through communication they can influence the world around them it can support speech development.

Children and parents will have their own preferences but giving something like picture cards a go is a good place to start.

A fantastic book which we often recommend on here is more than words by Fern Sussman.

We are not sponsored and have no affiliation with her but just think the book beautifully articulates tactics to try at home.

We also have some simple tips on this page.

Bring in the professionals

Work closely with your child’s school and see if speech therapy can be provided.

Also consider hiring therapists for at home if that is an option available to you.

Collaborate efforts to ensure a consistent approach.

Summary – Autism grunts instead of talking

Raising an autistic child requires patience and a deep understanding of their unique needs.

When it comes to speech, grunting may be a way for some autistic children to navigate the challenges they face.

By recognising the underlying reasons behind this behaviour, parents can offer the support and acceptance their child needs to thrive.

Remember, every autistic child is an individual with their own journey.

Embracing their differences whilst working with professionals and the community you can pave the way for meaningful communication development.

About the author

A collection of parents navigating our way around raising children with autism.

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