Hi when Conor was non verbal and learning some vocabulary I used PECS. Picture exchange communication system, I say this as a fellow parent, not meant in advise or judgement in anyway, I can only share our experiences.
PECs and Makaton sign language helped Conor enormously! At the time I was hesitant 😕 thinking if he learns sign language and how to communicate with pictures then he will be lazy about using his words. Thankfully the opposite was true and because of his extreme social anxiety if I showed him a picture of where we were going he was prepared. He learned this way at school in the early years as well. We had ‘time tables’ of pictures of what we were doing or going to eat or play with that day etc. I had to be careful about the timing of showing him pictures so as not to show them too soon which confused him and made him more anxious. If it was the doctor 👨⚕️ I showed him the picture 5 minutes before we left as he didn’t like going there lol. He loved the Playstation so we had lots of pictures of his games and when he was learning PECS he wasn’t allowed a game until he showed me a picture. ( lots of meltdowns at first!)
Owen is more advanced than Conor at his age, I agree with you so much with the difficulties a parent of an autistic child faces, when do you let them be in their own world, when to join in their autistic world, when to be strict, to correct them or not etc. I guess one size doesn’t fit all with any parenting and for Conor and I it was a lot of trial and error. I feel the love you and Owen have for each other and that’s what’s important, I look forward to your posts.
Maybe PECs could help, maybe you’re already using it, maybe you’ve heard of it and decided it’s not for you and Owen, you haven’t mentioned so I thought I’d share our experience with it.
In time pictures and sign language weren’t needed any more so it was successful for us to use this method.
Sent with love and admiration