Understanding Who, What, When, Where, Why and How Questions

It is a widely known that children with autism often have communication difficulties. Thus, if you are speaking with your child who is affected by autism, it is always best that you use simple and direct language. Try to stay away from idioms as well as statements with implied meaning. For example, if you want your child to stop playing loudly, it is always better to say “Please be quiet” rather than saying, “I am on the phone and cannot hear the person I am speaking with.”

While your child can understand simple words and simple language, keep in mind that he may not be able to understand complex words and statements. In fact, even complex questions such as who, what, when, where, why and how may even be too difficult for him to comprehend and to process.

What you can do to help him understand and respond to these questions is to teach him these questions by using short storyline scenarios which you can either watch on video or role play. If your child likes watching videos or cartoons, you can use one storyline from the video to teach him how to answer these questions. However, if you and your child love to act out situations, it may be a good idea to prepare short scenarios which you and your child can role play.

After watching the video or acting out a story, you can practice asking your child questions that start with who, what, when, where, why and how.

Some of the questions you can ask include:

  • Who are the characters in the story?
  • What was the story about?
  • When did the story happen?
  • Where did the story happen?
  • Why did the character do that?
  • How did the story end?

When you first start with this activity, do not feel frustrated when your child is not able to understand what you are asking him. Be patient and continue to give him assistance by always referring back to the story that you just acted out. Initially, to help him out, you can provide him with the answer that you are looking for so that he will know how to answer it next time around.

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