The big one, and pivotal in every other area. Many of the behaviors associated with autism are a direct result of having no ability to communicate with others. If I was unable to comprehend any type of communication, from gestures to words to facial expressions, I can't help but think that tantrums, tuning people out, stimming and many other 'autistic' behaviors would become the only possible escape. Whether you teach it with sigh language, flashcards or an ESL program, find a way that works for your child and keep plugging away at it, day in and day out. A simple outline is to begin with those words he will most use in daily life and go from there. Once the child sees the value of communication your job gets easier. Keep raising the bar though, always being encouraged and encouraging, but never completely content with a less than complete grasp of language.
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