Asperger’s Disorder children often do well learning how to start a conversation. They are good at memorizing exact conversation starters and with your prompts are likely to use them. Because conversations are unpredictable and cannot be memorized, Asperger’s Disorder children experience far greater struggles keeping the conversation going after they give their starter line.
Since your child will not naturally learn how to converse through experience alone, you will have to instruct her. You do not need to have any formal instruction, but rather simply through conversing with your child, you gain ample opportunity to teach communication skills. If you can help your child with the two most important skills in conversing, you will greatly improve her ability to carry on conversations. Focus on encouraging your child to:
• “Listen to what I say.”
• “Say something about what I just said.”
In conversation, if your child responds to you with a completely unrelated statement, gently remind her, “Honey, I just said that I loved the pizza we had last night, and you asked me what type of engine 747 airplanes have. Can you say something about my pizza comment before you change the subject to airplanes?” You are nicely describing to her what was incorrect and what she needs to do to keep the conversation on track.