Improving Communication and Interaction in Children with Autism

If you have a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, or know someone who does, you know that communication with the child is a constant issue for many, and it is a skill that takes many years to perfect. Many parents are unsure how to best support their child's development, and even how best to interact, speak, and play with the child. If you are unfamiliar with communication problems in children with ASD, read this: Communication Problems in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

In order to improve communication skills in children with ASD, you must first understand the different stages of communication development. Every child will develop at a different pace, so don't compare your child to others you know, or to any set timeline. Celebrate your child's accomplishments and be supportive through the hardships, and do not forget to take care of yourself. You will be a happier and more effective carer because of it.


Understanding Communication Problems associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Types of Communication

Pre-intentional Communication

Pre-intentional communications are things a child with ASD says without intending to affect the people around them. This is used to calm or focus oneself, or as a reaction to a stimulating experience.

Intentional Communication

Intentional Communications are made when the child wishes to communicate with another person, either to express needs or ask questions. The step from pre-intentional communication to intentional communication is a large one, and is a sign of progress in children with ASD.

The 4 Stages of Communication

1) 'Self' stage

Children in the 'Self' stage will be self-absorbed, using mostly pre-intentional communication and generally avoiding eye contact and interaction. 

2) 'Want' stage

Once a child realizes his or her actions have an effect on other people, he/she is i the 'Want' stage. They may communicate basic wants or needs by pulling towards things and attempting to get others' attention.

3) 'Two-way' stage

A child in the 'Two-way' stage will start asking for things, and may echo language they've heard to ask for specific things. They will shift their gaze more and might point to things they want to show the adult.

4) 'Conversation' stage

A child with ASD in this stage will have become an effective communicator, able to hold a simple conversation in a comfortable environment. New or stressful environments may cause the child to revert to repetitive phrases, or ignore the turn-taking normal in conversation.

How Adults and Parents Can Help Develop Communication Skills

Become a Teacher

When a child with ASD has trouble communicating, especially in the 'Self' stage, it is tempting to want to do everything for them - tying shoes, getting them water, etc. - however, this does not give the child a chance to prove that they can do something, Asking twice if they need help (and waiting a bit for a response) before helping them is a good idea to help develop conversation skills and give the child a chance to help themselves.

Encourage Interaction with Other Kids

Encourage your child to play and talk to other kids. Remember, any interaction, even an angry or sad one, will serve as practice, and will help the child acclimate to the social world we live in. 

Slow Down

Caring for a child with ASD can be stressful, and during important activities (eating breakfast, getting ready to go, etc.) you may be tempted to rush your child. Slowing down and giving time for your child to recognize and process what is happening, as well as reflect on what has happened may improve situational awareness and conversation skills.

Step Back

Once a child with ASD has developed more proficient speaking skills, it can be helpful to take a step back from being your child's advocate, and to let them speak for themselves. Let your child initiate conversations, and do not forget to give them feedback after an important interaction that might teach your child a lesson.

Create Opportunities

Remember, practice makes perfect. When you see an opportunity for your child to practice communication, step back and let them initiate that communication. When no opportunities arise, create them yourself. Give your child an opportunity to make requests and ask questions, instead of automatically filling them in. When you meet someone new, assuming your child is at least somewhat comfortable in these situations, let them make the introductions instead of you.

Encourage Requests

Make yourself useful to encourage requests. This can be done in many ways, which depend on your child's specific needs and abilities. For example, place a favorite toy or candy on a high shelf, where they can see it, but cannot reach it. Another idea is giving the child a complex toy, and waiting for them to request your help in operating it. Encouraging your child to ask you for help will foster a healthy interaction between you and the child.

Follow Their Lead

While leading activities is sometimes necessary, letting your child take the reigns occasionally can have numerous benefits, including practicing communicating, making decisions, and planning. During activities, let your child do what they want to do, and even copy or imitate them, to coax a 2-way interaction. They may begin to imitate you in response, and you can then add whatever you wish to the exchange. This idea extends to ending an activity too. Letting your child signal when they wish to end an activity will help develop their communication skills, but if they are still working on speech, you must pay attention to the signals your child is sending (pulling away, grimacing, etc.) to understand when they wish to stop. If they have trouble finding the words, you can say them (i.e "Had enough?" or "All done?") to facilitate speech association.

How to Help a Child with ASD Understand What is Said to Them

There are many situations in which a child with ASD will not understand what is happening or being said to them, and even if they appear to follow directions, they may just be acting based on what they've done before. Comprehension, understanding what is said, is a complex skill that requires a lot of time and practice to improve.

Many autistic children experience sensory overload, where stimuli that would seem normal to us is way too much for a child with ASD. This can be extremely detrimental to the learning process, and causes many subsequent issues for children that experience it. It is important to note here, though, that every child is different, and will experience the world differently. Keep in mind your child's specific issues, and what has worked for them in the past, when reading this section.

Simple and Slow

If a child with ASD is new to communicating, using single words is the easiest way to communicate and be understood. A pointing gesture or associated object used concurrently with the word will help cement the meaning in the child's memory. Speaking slowly and deliberately ensures that you'll be heard and not misunderstood, and that you won't overwhelm the child. 

Sign Language

A child with less proclivity to learning speech may benefit from a Total Communication approach, using both sign language (ASL, BSL, and many others) and spoken language concurrently. This allows the child to experience both forms simultaneously, highlighting key word meanings, and developing language comprehension.

Helpful Resources

If your child has Autism you are welcome to download Speakprose for free onto an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, and introduce it to them as a way to assist in communicating and share what’s on their mind.

Parent-Child Communication Strategies to Subdue Mental Health Trauma

Post by  SpeakProse  Content Team on October 2, 2018

Post by SpeakProse Content Team on October 2, 2018

Parenting can be really difficult sometimes.

No matter your child’s age, it’s always difficult to communicate with them on their level; especially when they’re going through tough times.  A topic that isn’t spoken about too often, but needs more awareness, is how to effectively communicate with a child that is experiencing mental health trauma.  Identifying the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders in your child and communicating with them in an open, caring manner that shows that you want to listen is key.  Let’s look at the best practices for nurturing your child in a supportive manner that keeps them from experiencing any type of mental health trauma.

Child Mental Health

Current estimations in the U.S. show that 20% of children (1 in 5) experience a mental disorder every year.  That comes with a $247 billion price tag every year for treatment and management services.  This is not to mention that 1 out of 7 U.S. children aged 2 to 8 years have a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder (MBDD) as of parent-reported information from the 2011-12 National Survey of Children’s Health.  Speculation for the cause of development of MBDDs is thought to be related to various family, community, and health-care factors.

Understanding the signs and symptoms of mental health can help you, as a parent, help you child if you notice they are becoming distressed by the current state of their life.  MBDDs can cause a child to lose their interest in activities and/or negatively impact their friendships, grades, and mood. Child behaviors such as spending all their time at home in their rooms and/or becoming distant and morose out of nowhere, might signal mental health problems that are deeper than surface level.

Effective Communication Strategies

If you believe that your child is exhibiting these traits or behaviors, talking to them in an open and compassionate way is always the best solution.  Being as non-judgmental as possible and taking the time to listen to what your child must say without responding with how you would have handled what they are going through at their age.  Try to be as positive as possible when you listen to your child’s experiences and look for ways to validate their emotions and provide them with words of affirmation in response whenever possible.  Examples of words of affirmation in this specific scenario would be:

“You are strong and capable.”

“You deserve to be happy.”

“You will come through this challenge with a better understanding of yourself.”

Communicate to your child that the emotions that they are feeling are healthy and normal and offer your support to them if they need it (don’t sweat it if they don’t need it right away).  The initial conversation should plant the seed that opens the door to future conversations related to mental health if and when your child is ready to speak to you about it. When your child seeks you out for a conversation on mental health related topics be sure to be available for them and allow them to talk openly.  This will allow your child to cope with these new emotions that they are experiencing in a healthy way and learn social communication skills that will help them get ahead in life.

Helpful Resources

If your child is non-communicative or reluctant to speak about what’s on their mind, you are welcome to download Speakprose for free onto an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, and introduce it to them as a way to start to open up and share what’s on their mind.

Cognixion Featured in CIOReview Magazine


Cognixion is proud to announce that CIOReview Magazine is featuring Cognixion in its “20 Most Promising Artificial Intelligence Solution Providers – 2018.”



CIOReview Magazine is a leading print magazine that highlights enterprise solutions redefining the business goals of future enterprises and organizations. This magazine bridges the gap between enterprise IT vendors and buyers by sharing innovative solutions developed by well-respected and established solution providers like Cognixion. CIOReview Magazine only showcases the most important groundbreaking ideas, so this is a proud moment for everyone in the Cognixion family.

The feature article starts by noting that the brilliant and world-renowned scientist, Stephen Hawking, could not have made his significant contributions to cosmology and theoretical physics without assistive technology. Using this technology allowed Hawking to communicate with the world simply by blinking his eye or twitching his cheek.

Next, the article challenges the reader to consider the millions of people with speech disabilities and accessibility barriers who also have important ideas to share with the world. There might be hundreds or even thousands of other geniuses just like Stephen Hawking, but the lack of affordable technology had made expressing themselves or communicating their ideas impossible.

Until now.

“The vivid applications of latest technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and augmented reality (AR) can make it possible,” says Andreas Forsland, founder and CEO of Cognixion, in the feature.

Forsland laid the foundation of the AI-based company out of a desire to “democratize communication.” Cognixion fuses AI, ML, and AR to create affordable products that enrich human communication.

“Through our inventive technology, we allow differentially abled people to use their brain waves to control objects around them in the real and digital world. It is like a virtual mouse reading brain signals and taking decisions accordingly.”

The feature article goes on to explain how the Cognixion system can understand what the user wishes. The technology pairs advanced technology with electroencephalogram (EEG) to create a wearable headset that acts as a brain-computer interface that can detect what part of the Cognixion AR display the individual is paying attention to. Advanced dry electrodes, positioned comfortably on the person’s head, detect active patterns in brainwaves.

The electrodes are part of Cognixion’s wireless BCI, which works completely offline and is not dependent on cloud computing. The ability to work offline requires a creative and sophisticated approach to using machine learning and artificial intelligence, and Cognixion provides that alternative to traditional statistical methods. The brain-computer interface monitors the user’s eyes, analyzes the attributes of objects that the user sees, and communicates with the software running on the display to create a closed loop. The feature article details how Cognixion uses machine learning to optimize electrode positioning for ideal signal quality and to improve signal noise.

CIOReview Magazine also remarked at the incredible speed at which Cognixion identifies objects. In fact, the article mentions that Cognixion’s machine learning-enabled system can work as fast as human biological optics and neurology will allow, and do it with nearly 100 percent accuracy.

While this feature in CIOReview Magazine introduces a global audience to the use of AI, ML and brain-computer interfaces to facilitate communication, Cognixion has already empowered thousands of individuals with disabilities with their latest speech generating mobile app, Speakprose. This app, available for free download from Speakprose, allows individuals to accelerate social engagement with 10-times faster communication.

The entire team at Cognixion is excited about the feature article in CIOReview Magazine, and looks forward to helping even more people communicate through the use of artificial intelligence, machine learning and brain-computer interfaces and other advanced technologies.

Cognixion proudly invites you to read the article in CIOReview Magazine, where you can learn about the exciting technologies already offered by Cognixion and discover the innovations Cognixion plans to introduce in the years to come.

Autism Prevalence Continues to Increase

Post by  SpeakProse  Content Team on October 1, 2018

Post by SpeakProse Content Team on October 1, 2018

As the years’ progress, more and more research is being completed on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) due to its increase in prevalence in clinical studies.  Since the turn of the 21st century, studies have tried to link ASD to everything from gluten intolerance to vaccinations.  Since those studies were released, their claims have either been debunked or retracted, but the research carries on trying to find a link to the underlying cause of ASD and why many more children are being diagnosed with ASD in recent years.  This article will explore a recent report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) back in April 2018 and what new findings were presented in the report.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Identification

The presence of restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities that also accompany the decrease in social communication prowess that can persist throughout life is what defines Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  Most specialists agree that it is possible to identify and diagnose a child with ASD as early as two (2) years of age. If you can catch the diagnosis far enough in the future via tracking specific milestones, you can report any concerns to a health care provider for a comprehensive development evaluation referral.  This evaluation can identify any delays or impairments that you child is connected to related to ASD and provide you with the appropriate solutions.


Study Findings

The study by the CDC found that roughly 1 in 59 children in the United States (U.S.) have autism which is an increase of 16% from the 2014 CDC report that specified 1 in 68 children had autism and nearly 50% increase since the 2006 CDC report on Autism (1 in 110).  The 2018 report documented a group of 8-year-old children from multiple U.S. communities that cover various socio-economic backgrounds.  The study found that prevalence estimates varied between monitoring sites, with significantly higher numbers at sites where researchers had full access to school records.

Four (4) times as many boys as girls were found to be autistic in this study which is a slight decrease from 2012 figures when boys were 4.5 times more frequently diagnosed than girls.  The narrowing of the gap between the number of autistic boys and girls showcases that improved identification techniques in clinical settings have improved in recent years. As changes have been made to diagnostic testing and awareness for autism has increased, it has allowed for the number of autism diagnoses to increase as well.

Due to the relative small scale of this study and the fact that the research was only done in specific regions for a limited age group, it doesn’t give an accurate and credible picture of the state of autism in the U.S. amongst adults.  Although the prevalence of early age Autism diagnosis is a good statistic to baseline, it still leaves a large gap in our awareness of adults diagnosed with Autism. As more people become aware of autisms increasing prevalence in the U.S., hopefully there will be future studies from the CDC that showcase the trends of autistic individuals in areas that pertain to their future adult development.

Helpful Resources

If your child - or adult child - is non-communicative or reluctant to speak about what’s on their mind, you are welcome to download Speakprose for free onto an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, and introduce it to them as a way to start to open up and share what’s on their mind. Registered users also receive helpful tips via email to increase their success and joyful experience.

The Future of Communication: Biosensors, AI and Augmented Humans

The Future of Communication: Biosensors, AI and Augmented Humans

Watch Andreas’ keynote at the San Francisco Worlds Fair Nano 2018. He raises awareness of the current and future state of physical and cognitive bionics, and presents an optimistic vision of the world where ‘augmented’ humans can restore or expand their capacity and thrive in a new world.

Improving Communication and Interaction in Children with Autism

Improving Communication and Interaction in Children with Autism

If you have a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, or know someone who does, you know that communication with the child is a constant issue for many, and it is a skill that takes many years to perfect. In order to improve communication skills in children with ASD, you must first understand the different stages of communication development. Every child will develop at a different pace, so don’t compare your child to others you know, or to any set timeline. Celebrate your child’s accomplishments and be supportive through the hardships, and do not forget to take care of yourself. You will be a happier and more effective carer because of it.

Speakprose Featured On Autism Live

Andreas Forsland, CEO of Cognixion, was asked to speak about Cognixion & our technology on the Autism live podcast.

Autism Live is an interactive webshow that provides support, resources, information, facts, entertainment and inspiration to parents, teachers and practitioners who work with children on the autism spectrum. To learn more about their amazing show click here

Throughout the show Andreas explains how Speakprose works and whats coming up with our Thought to Speech program.

If you are interested in learning more about Speakprose, visit our App Store page and download Speakprose and let us know what you think.