<p>The symptoms of autism are often most obvious in social situations. Even for verbal people with autism, choosing and using the right words and body language can be very difficult indeed. It&#39;s not unusual for people with Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism to find themselves frustrated when they misunderstand others or are misunderstood themselves. Often, communications problems relate as much to non-verbal communication (body language) as to spoken words.</p><p>Pragmatic speech issues relate to the practical use of language in a real-world setting. Sure, a person with autism may have a large vocabulary, but all too often people on the spectrum use their words in ways that make little sense to others. Even worse, slightly &#34;off&#34; use or understanding of idioms and slang can lead to bullying and teasing. It&#39;s possible to teach speech pragmatics, but it&#39;s a complicated subject: every situation calls for a slightly different use of vocabulary, intonation and body language.</p><p>If you&#39;re the parent of a verbal child diagnosed with autism, you may have heard your child repeat bits and pieces from videos or other sources. This type of communication is called &#34;echolalia.&#34; It&#39;s a unique form of speech - and though it&#39;s thought of as a &#34;symptom,&#34; it can also be a great place to start working with your child. It can be difficult for others, though, to understand that echolalia is not intended as a form of bad behavior: when a child with autism repeats anothers&#39; words, they&#39;re not mocking anyone, they&#39;re simply trying their best to communicate!</p><p>Spoken language involves more than use of words; we vary our pitch, loudness, tempo, and rhythm in speech in order to convey different meanings. These changes are called &#34;prosody,&#34; and people with autism often find prosody difficult to hear, understand, or reproduce. What this means is that even people with very high functioning autism or Asperger syndrome may not truly understand what is being said, or may say things in such a way that they are misunderstood.</p><p>About 25% of people diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder could be considered to have nonverbal autism -- yet the term &#34;nonverbal autism&#34; is not a part of the diagnostic criteria. In part, that&#39;s because there is no clear line between verbal and non-verbal individuals with autism. Some people have the ability to speak, but lack the ability to use language in a meaningful way. Others can&#39;t use spoken language, but are able to communicate with written or typed language, American sign language, picture cards, or digital communication devices.</p>Many people with autism develop spoken language much later than their typically developing peers. Interestingly, though, late development of speech is NOT a major predictor of outcomes. Some children who don&#39;t say a word until they&#39;re three or four develop significant language skills and are able to do quite well in school and beyond.