Why consider latency to improve interaction with Children with Autism?

Why consider latency to improve interaction with Children with Autism?

In floortime coaching, we often advise the parents of children with autism, “Maybe you should slow down a little bit or wait a little longer.”  In interacting with people with developmental challenges such as autism, latency refers to the time delay between stimulus and response. Considering latency is related to the functioning of the brain. Interaction is a circular function of sensory input and output, requiring processing time. Even when we are in a state of stillness, our brain is constantly performing this spinning function. It usually happens without us even realizing it, but children with developmental issues may need more time to process information. Taking more time to wait and pace yourself when cueing a child and when expecting a cue from a child has several benefits, including.

  1. Reduces pressure and provides a sense of safety – By giving children with autism the time they need to understand and respond, you are effectively reducing their anxiety and pressure. This fosters a more supportive and understanding environment, directly contributing to their emotional stability and overall well-being.
  2. Encourage expression—Your role is crucial in this process. Children with autism may take longer to express their thoughts verbally or nonverbally. When people feel rushed or interrupted, they become less willing to communicate. The same is valid for children with autism. Your waiting and patience are the fuel that encourages them to express themselves, making you a significant influence in their communication journey.
  3. parents can observe children more closely while waiting and better understand their intentions.
  4. observing the latency of responses gives insight into the child’s cognitive and sensory processing abilities and can help with more accurate assessments and tailored interventions.
  5. Another significant benefit of considering latency is its positive impact on cognitive processing skills. By engaging in more interactive functions, the brain’s ability to process information is enhanced. This is particularly important for children with autism and developmental challenges, as it can help improve their learning and communication abilities.
  6. Builds trust and self-confidence – As parents respect their child’s pace, their emotional bond with their child increases, and their self-confidence also improves. When children know that their responses are valued and recognized, even if delayed, they are more likely to engage in communication and interaction.

In summary, by considering latency when interacting with children with autism and developmental challenges, you are not only facilitating effective communication and accurate assessment but also creating a customized support system and a nurturing learning environment. This approach respects the unique processing abilities of each child, empowering you in your roles as parents, caregivers, and educators, and contributing significantly to their emotional and cognitive development.

Subscribe DR-TOMATO newsletter