Understanding Spoken Emotion of a Child with Autism: What Parents Need to Know

If you’re a guardian of an autistic child, you already know how hard it can be to understand what your child is saying. They may not speak at all, or they might use words that are unclear to the parents. This happens because children with autism have neurological uniqueness, making it difficult to interpret and express their feelings verbally. The following article discusses how parents can understand spoken emotion by their Autistic Children.


Understand they are unique

The first step to understanding the emotions of autistic children is to know that they are different. Autistic children generally do not conventionally understand facial expressions like other people. They might look at a picture of somebody smiling and laugh, thinking it is funny for no reason. Moreover, because they cannot pick up on or read non-verbal cues that other people use to express their emotions, autistic children often have trouble recognizing these emotions in themselves and others.

Reading their Body language

When reading the body language of an Autistic child, it is essential to first watch the child’s entire body for clues on what they might be feeling. If the child is sitting with their arms crossed, then they may be feeling defensive or angry. This act could probably mean that they are at their breaking point for the day.  Sometimes the child will yell at the parent; this behavior is because children with autism may not know how to communicate without yelling out of anger.

Feeling of sadness 

If an Autistic child is sad, they may have droopy shoulders and downcast eyes. They also may be more quiet than usual– sometimes even unresponsive when parents try talking to them. In response, parents should make sure that they never invalidate the emotions of their child with autism. Doing this will cause your child to feel inferior and insecure about who they are as an individual. If your autistic son feels sad because he wants his toy, yet it’s time for naptime,  tell him there’s no reason to be upset. Validate his feelings by saying something like, “I understand why you’re so frustrated right now.” Parents can also help their children learn new ways to express themselves, such as writing out their thoughts in journals or using pictures instead of words when talking about things.

Anxiety and confusion

If an Autistic child is anxious, they might fidget, seem restless, and make lots of noise. They may also display more stimming behaviors than usual. Again, If autistic children feel confused or disoriented, they will likely stare at you with a vacant expression on their face. This behavior means that the child is having trouble understanding what parents are saying to them.

Feeling of fear

If an Autistic child is Afraid, they might freeze up, huddled at a corner, and not move like usual. They may also stroll around the room without making noise and seem more quiet than usual. Try to make their environment calm and gentle for them. If your autistic son has Asperger’s Syndrome, this wouldn’t mean that he isn’t afraid– it simply means that his fear response will look different from most children with autism (and neuro-typical people too)

Feeling of happiness

When autistic children are happy or excited about something, they smile and laugh very hard while jumping up and down in place. Parents need to take pictures at times like these as those memories will likely become some of your most cherished ones as you watch your child grow into who they were always meant to be. Remember that if a child’s body appears loose and relaxed, it might mean that they are comfortable talking to you about what is bothering them. If they have an open posture where their legs are spread apart more than shoulder-width apart, and feet are facing your direction, this could signal that they want to talk things through with you. Additionally, When reading verbal language cues from children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), there needs to be clarity in tone of voice and word choice.

Feeling of interest

When looking for emotional clues in children with autism, it is essential to pay attention to how animated their body language gets. If you realize the child is starting to move around more than usual while speaking or gesturing, it could signal excitement or interest in what they’re saying (or perhaps even both). On the other hand, if parents find themselves pointing at things too much during conversations, the child might not be understanding what you’re saying.

How to communicate with them

It can also help if parents use short sentences and simple concepts while speaking to an autistic child. By using only one or two main ideas per sentence instead of several different ones, your child will have less confusion/trouble processing information being shared between both parties during interactions. It’s also essential for parents with ASD loved ones to avoid asking questions that require them to think too hard about responding. This happens because children with autism have difficulty reading social cues, so they may not understand what you ask them or how to answer.

Once you’ve learned about the many different ways that autistic children experience emotion, you can start to understand them and their needs better. You’ll be able to pick up on when your child is upset or under stress– even if they don’t show it through facial expressions.

Recognizing these emotions helps adults better understand the needs of non-verbal autistic children and provide appropriate responses that promote positive behavior development. If you cannot get a good read on your child’s emotions during interactions, paying close attention while watching them play with their toys can be helpful and informative. By doing so, you will see what type of moods they may enjoy or dislike. We would like to believe this information will be of great use to parents caring for an autistic child.


Carolein et al. (2000). Understanding Atypical emotions Among Autistic Children.

Last Updated on September 22, 2021