by A is for Apple, Inc. | Feb 22, 2017

Helping Your Child Recognize Non-Verbal Cues

Valentines day has just passed and all the talk about love and relationships may bring up questions about your child and how they interpret those emotions, especially those not communicated through words.

Does your child have difficulty reading facial expressions and body language? Non-verbal emotional cues can be hard to decipher for children on the autism spectrum. Since communication is a combination of verbal and non-verbal cues, it can become difficult for them to communicate effectively; it’s like not having all the pieces to a puzzle. However, it is not impossible to teach your child the skills to be able to recognize, and even express the non-verbal parts of communication. The first step is to be able to recognize and interpret those non-verbal facial cues

Here are some activities you can do with your child to help them learn how to recognize emotions from facial expressions:

  • Practice facial expressions to mimic different emotions in the mirror
  • Have your child mimic facial expressions and take pictures of them so they can see their own face interpreting those feelings
  • Create collages with pictures of different expressions found in magazines, newspapers, etc.
  • Teach your child to draw cartoon faces showing different emotions
  • Watch an educational show that you can pause; when a character on the show expresses an emotion, pause the TV and ask your child what they think the character is feeling based on their facial expression, talk about those emotions and why they might be feeling this way or a time when your child has felt this way.
  • Make flashcards with cartoon faces expressing emotion and “quiz” your child.

Using the activities above, your child will be well on their way to being able to recognize and name the various emotions that are shown through facial expressions. Remember, repetition is key – practice will help develop these skills!

Want to read further on similar subjects? You can find more helpful information on our blog; check back often for updated information.

Technology Spotlight

Robbie the Robot: Matching Emotions

Here is another tool to help your child learn to recognize and understand non-verbal emotional cues.


From the website: “Robbie the Robot helps children with autism to recognize emotions. The game integrates 3D animations and a real persons face, to communicate the emotion that the character is feeling. Robbie the Robot is a mechanical character on a journey to find his missing hat. Many autistic children find mechanical objects engaging and by combining this with a real human face the aim is for the child to practice identifying emotions in a non-confrontational environment that they enjoy. The game reinforces the following keywords, which can be used as a tool by parents and teachers for encouraging positive behaviors in real life situations; ‘happy’, ‘sad’, ‘angry’, ‘surprised’.

You can find this game online by clicking here.

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Local Events


Music and Children with Autism: A Practical Guide for Parents and Caregivers

Join us for an evening with music educator, Dr. Ryan Hourigan. Learn how the arts can help parents and caregivers connect and engage with their children. Artistic and non-artistic parents and caregivers will discover a variety of activities and techniques to take home and try with their children. Dr. Hourigan will be joined by Amy Hourigan (MT-BC), a licensed music therapist.

  • When:  Monday, March 6, 7:30pm
  • Where: 230 San Antonio Circle
                Mountain View, CA 94040
  • RSVP: Click Here to RSVP
  • More Information: Event Website

San Francisco Ballet Swan Lake Workshop

Please join us for this incredible opportunity to have your special-needs family to engage with one of our region’s most beloved cultural treasures, and with one of their most popular ballets!

The event features a performance session, interactive movement session, hands-on activity room, quiet room, the wonderful music of Tchaikovsky’s famous score, photos with Swan Lake dancers, and social stories guide about Swan Lake.

  • When:  March 12, 2:30-4pm
  • Where: 455 Franklin Street
                 San Francisco, CA
  • Cost:   $10 (proceeds to be donated to SF Ballet)

Space is limited, so please RSVP to indicating the names of all registrants. 

To reserve your space, please send your checks made out to AFBA to: 166 Sussex Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

By |2018-11-29T00:41:45+00:00February 21st, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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