Pre-Speaking Program


ASD Pre-Speaking is a workbook program.

Many children on the autism spectrum have little or no speech. This often leads intervention efforts to be focused on narrow, limited language goals. Fortunately, far more is possible. Although they have not received the attention they merit, there are a range of cognitive skills that do not require speech but still benefit language. The skills include memory, attention, sequencing and relatively complex receptive language. With mastery of these skills, many children progress to learning both spoken and written language.

What is ASD Pre-Speaking and what can it accomplish?

Using activities that require no speech, ASD Pre-Speaking teaches a range of cognitive and linguistic skills to non-verbal* children with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental conditions that interfere with language development. (Note: The term “non-verbal” is often misleading since many of the children can comprehend and incorporate language. A more accurate term would be “non-speaking.”)

Upon successful completion of the program, children are able to

  • attend to directions, guidance, and input from adults
  • sustain attention to cognitive demands for periods up to 15 to 20 minutes
  • gain the ability to retain increasingly complex sequences of visual information
  • comprehend and respond to increasingly complex language-based demandsASD Pre-Speaking may be implemented by a parent, teacher, therapist, or other dedicated adult.

Who is the program for?

ASD Pre-Speaking is for children who display the willingness to respond effectively to adult guidance. To benefit from adult-led instruction, a child must be able to cooperate in the teaching process. If a foundation of cooperation is not yet present, it can be established through the behavioral program outlined in Spectacular Bond: Reaching the Child with Autism by Dr. Marion Blank, Dr. Suzanne Goh, and Susan Deland. It is advisable to postpone the ASD Pre-Speaking program until the Spectacular Bond program has been completed.

ASD Pre-Speaking Program

Upon completion of ASD Pre-Speaking

  • some children will be ready to move on to ASD Unlocking Language: Part 2. This is a program that does require spoken language (see
  • Children who do not develop the requisite speaking skills may still acquire language via a different program—ASD Reading (see Although most children learn to speak before they learn to read, this is not a fixed sequence. Children on the autism spectrum have strengths in visual processing that enable many to read before they learn to speak.How is the program organized?

ASD Pre-Speaking is organized into short daily sessions lasting about 15 to 20 minutes each. Sessions take place once per day, four or five days per week. Skills taught in the lessons are also practiced outside the session in real-world settings. Depending on the child’s skill and rate of progress, the full program takes from 2 to 6 months to complete.

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