Monday, March 17, 2014

Expressive Communication

Many students, especially those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, have difficulty expressing their wants and needs (expressive communication), as well as understanding others (receptive communication). According to the Pediatric Therapy Network, "expressive language is a broad term that describes how a person communicates their wants and needs. It encompasses verbal and nonverbal communication skills and how an individual uses language.  Expressive language skills include, facial expressions, gestures, intentionality, vocabulary, semantics (word/sentence meaning), morphology, and syntax (grammar rules)" (2014).  Due to expressive language including a variety of communication skills, students with Autism may have more difficulty with the concept because they are nonverbal, have difficulty understanding nonverbal communication cues from others, and/or may have a delayed processing of language (Positive Partnerships, 2014).

In order to help these students with expressive communication, the teacher can use specific strategies that will assist them in understanding basic communication concepts.  For instance, the teacher can use visual supports to give the student choices and to begin language development, as well as teaching the student to use these visual supports in their surrounding environments; calendars, signs, door numbers, name cards, and drawer labels (Autism Speak, 2012).  Along with visual supports, the teacher can also use scripts, such as pictures and/or words for exchanges and/or communication needs.  Using cue cards is a great way to help students begin understanding the expressive language concepts.


Autism Speaks (2012). Supporting Learning in the Student with Autism.  Retrieved from

Pediatric Therapy Network (2014).  Speech-Language Definitions. Retrieved from

Positive Partnerships (2014).  Communication. Retrieved from

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