Helping Children on the Autism Spectrum to Copy
Children learn about objects, language, people and social interactions by watching, listening and copying. This can be difficult for children on the autism spectrum, but they can learn to copy with some help.
Imitate sounds to help your child learn that sounds and words carry meaning and are used to communicate our needs, wants and interests.
- Choose a time, e.g. when your child is playing with toys, when he is sitting at the table for a snack or a meal. Make sure you are positioned so that your child can see your face and it is easy to make eye contact. When your child vocalises, copy the sound that they make and wait to see if they make another sound. When they do, copy this and wait again to see if he vocalises again so that you develop a back-and-forth exchange.
- See if he makes eye contact with you and smiles at you to show that he is enjoying the activity.
- Try using an echo microphone (you can buy these at the Early Learning Centre and on Amazon) and take turns to make noises and sounds into the mic.
Imitate actions with objects
Imitate actions to help your child learn about objects and develop play skills.
- Put together some matching sets of objects that your child likes playing with, e.g. matching sets of blocks, cars, figures, musical toys, musical instruments etc. Position yourself opposite your child with your toys in front of his toys.
- Wait and watch what he does with his toys.
- Copy what he does, e.g. if he rolls his car back and forth, roll your car back and forth.
- Repeat this procedure – wait and watch
- Copy – and so on.
- When he is used to you playing alongside him and copying his actions, show your child a new action. For example, make your car crash into something and say, ‘Bang!’ or ‘Crash!’ See if he copies you. If he does not, prompt him to copy by putting your hands over his hands and crashing the car.
- Repeat your new action each time you play with these toys so that it becomes part of the routine and when he is used to this, you can add another new action.