Boundaries play a crucial role in fostering healthy, playful, and structured relationships, but understanding varying social cues surrounding the learning of boundaries is not always a skill that children with autism possess. Slowly, through the use of simple and universal terms of “yes” and “no”, these children can learn to respect boundaries set by others, boundaries set by instructors, and boundaries they set themselves. This is also a simple way to ensure that there is a consistency in communications no matter who is engaging with the child. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) programs, teaching manding requesting for actions or items) and tacting (statement making) is essential to help children with autism effectively communicate their specific boundaries. Tacting encourages the child to engage without being prompted or without needing in particular. Manding is essential for the child to get what they need, or to communicate what they would like. One of the main ways ABA programmes facilitate children with autism or with a speech delay, is using commonly used tools such as PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) or TouchChat (a communication app that allows individuals to communicate using symbols, text, or voice output) PECS involves the use of picture cards or symbols to help individuals express their needs and wants, and the child will gesture to the image of what they are asking for. “Yes”, and “no” would be some of the first mands found on both TouchChat and PECS. Learning to communicate “yes” and “no” is particularly important as it forms the basis of communication, fostering trust and ensuring that the child’s needs are met. Once a child can communicate “yes” and “no,” more complex forms of communication can be introduced, always tailored to the child’s abilities and current skill set. This may include communicating preferences using full sentences or simpler one to two-word commands such as “stop” “more time,” “help me” and “all done.” Communication skills, especially the ability to express “yes” and “no,” are fundamental in meeting the needs of children with autism. Teaching these skills not only enhances their social and receptive abilities but also reduces behaviors that may arise due to uncommunicated discomforts. If the child understands the phrase “no”, they can also be better protected in regard to being stopped before they do something that may cause them harm. Another benefit of teaching the communication of those two words is that an instructor can gauge the extent of the child’s contextual understanding by using yes and no questions. In conclusion, ABA emphasises communication as a core component of supporting children with autism, and this communication starts with the simple “yes” and “no”. Through tools like PECS and TouchChat, children learn to express their boundaries and needs, leading to improved social interactions, safety, and overall well-being.

Ashleigh Pascoe