Teaching language is needed in many special needs classrooms. Receptively what others are saying and expressing what they want to say is difficult for some students. For this reason, language instruction is important. If a child cannot think of the word to indicate what they want, they will not be able to let you know what they want. Teachers and caregivers need to actively teach language skills to students, based on the student's skill level. Some ideas for language skills may be:

  • Working on Matching Objects
  • Understanding Same and Different
  • Identifying Parts of the Body
  • Learning Noun Words
  • Categorizing 
  • Following Verb Directions
  • Labeling up, down, on, off, etc. 

langauge skills development for students with autism


Helping your child with autism build receptive language skills can seem like an overwhelming task, but it doesn’t have to be. Receptive language skills encompass the ability to understand language. It can be difficult to know where to start or what you should focus on first. That’s why it is helpful to begin with a quick assessment of your child’s current skills. This will show you areas of difficulty and pinpoint where your child could use help. Use this checklist to determine which of these skills your child already has and which they could benefit from working on:

Matching Object to Object

Put with the Same

Matching Picture to the Real Object

Color Wheel

Match Days on the Calendar

Match The Letters of Your Name

Alphabetical Order

Upper and Lowercase Match

Identify Colors

Sorting items

If you are already working with a Speech Language Pathologist, you can also refer to any information you have received from them when assessing your child’s receptive language skills.

Once you have completed a simple assessment, you can start incorporating activities to target areas you have identified that need improvement. There are often objects already in your house that you can use to help build your child’s language comprehension.

A simple activity that can be done at home is matching object to object. Simply employ the use of household items like cups, spoons, or toys. Another activity that builds your child’s language comprehension and vocabulary skills is sorting objects. Again, various everyday household items can be used here. Think about items that your child uses frequently like toys, clothing or even helping sort the groceries.

It is important to keep in mind that building receptive language skills at home does not have to be an all or nothing approach. Start small, focusing on a few goals at a time. That way you can incorporate these activities into your day while building valuable receptive language skills for your child.

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