It is important to realize that even though these abilities and this independence appear to be a strength for the child, it is actually a strategy that some kids may develop to avoid the more difficult task of communication.
Speech Language Pathologists know that the best time to build/encourage communication skills (initiation and follow through) is when the activity/item that the child wants in highly motivating to them and when the communication interaction is integrated into the activities of the day.
With this in mind I recommend to the parents that they create situations throughout the day that encourage their children to communicate. I first work with parents to take pictures or use symbol programs to create a method (communication board/book, picture choice system) for the kids to use to communicate (both verbal and non verbal children). Then we discuss ways to “set-up” situations at home that will lead to the need for communication. Ideas include: moving the juice/milk to a higher shelf in the back of the refrigerator, placing the desired computer games in a place the child cannot reach or otherwise disconnecting the computer from the network, or moving the DVD’s or the remote to a place where the child cannot reach it independently.
Just remember that although it is important to encourage and build independence in our kids with autism it is equally as important to help kids realize the power of communication.