Avoid These 5 Mistakes When Teaching Language to Children with Autism

Welcome to this special episode of the Turn Autism Around podcast with Dr. Mary Barbera! Recently, we began offering a 5 days to more talking coaching week and it’s been so much fun. During the 5 days, I shared the top 5 mistakes many well-meaning parents and professionals make when teaching language, and today, I am sharing them with you! If you want to build language, and avoid mistakes that can create barriers to learning how to talk, you don’t want to miss this important episode.


  • The top 5 Mistakes parents and professionals are making when teaching language
  • What does non verbal mean?
  • Can you teach a non verbal child vocal language
  • How to pick the right language goals with assessment
  • Importance of syllable length vs. the mean length of utterance
  • How and why to teach functional language
  • Abstract language to avoid
  • Importance of teaching self-care skills in addition to language

Non-Verbal Meaning

In this episode, you’ll learn strategies to avoid the top 5 mistakes I often see when parents and professionals are teaching language. I will also emphasize the importance of shaping joint attention and vocal behavior regardless of age. I often hear parents and professionals say, “Joe is non verbal”, but when I dig deeper, he often has some sounds and words he may say at random that we can build on! So, I wouldn’t be so quick to give up on vocal language, even if a child seems non-verbal. 

Mean Length of Utterance

I bet you often think, “How can I get my child to say longer phrases?”, otherwise known as increasing the mean length of utterance. I believe,  pushing to get a child to talk in longer phrases is a mistake! Instead of increasing the length of utterance, how about we count the syllables they can say clearly? By doing this, we can help kids expand how much they speak by keeping good articulation. Listen to hear more about the significance of syllable length and how you can increase it! 

In addition to syllables, I will tell you how you can focus on functional language instead of abstract concepts. I share the story of how Lucas, my son, could not request his wants and needs but a professional at the time was trying to teach him, yes/no by asking things like “Is this a cat?”. Teaching colors, yes/no, prepositions and/or pronouns when a child cannot get their basic needs met, is not something we want to be doing. 

Join me as I talk about all of this and more so that you can avoid the top 5 mistakes when teaching language and help your child or clients reach their fullest potential. Come find us on our social media platforms and tell me one of the mistakes you have made in teaching language. Don’t forget, if you love this episode, leave us a review on your podcast listening service. 

teaching language