Maybe you’re thinking it’s too late for you or a loved one diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to get help with their speech.
You’ve heard it’s about time to grow out of it, or that the prime time for language learning is over.
They echo these excuses.
While these misconceptions are completely understandable, you might not know that there are thousands of studies suggesting the contrary.
In fact, there are probably more options for you than you’re aware of.
Therapy is often considered unattainable in certain geographical or financial circumstances, which is the beauty of online speech therapy for autism.
Not only is online speech-language pathology proven to be as effective as in-person, it’s also using cutting-edge techniques to be a positive influence to adults of all ages and backgrounds.
Read on to learn about how we’re using four speech therapy activities to transform lives.
Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
PECS is historically one of the most effective activities performed for both children and adults on the spectrum.
This is because it can aid someone throughout all stages of their development, from recognizing basic objects to forming intelligible sentences.
Typically beginning with object recognition, it enhances nonverbal communication skills which can be associated with words in the future.
Let’s say we have a speech-language pathologist (SLP) named Sally.
Communicating live with Sally, you might identify an apple when she shows you a picture of an apple or vice versa. Sally knows that this practice aids the recognition of symbols and their association with real objects.
Once you’ve got a knack for that, you might go onto some form of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), where you would learn to talk without speaking in some form.
This can extend to answering basic questions she asks, such as “Do you like apples?” or “Do you like pineapple on pizza?” (hint: the answer is no).
That skill is actually incredibly important. Did you know studies have shown that children diagnosed with autism will often learn to say yes or no correctly in certain contexts, but cannot answer properly in others?
In other words, if Sally asks “Are you an adult?”, someone with ASD may not know how to respond to that, having only been conditioned to certain kinds of yes or no questions.
For such reasons, PECS and AAC in a wide variety of contexts play a huge role in autism speech therapy.
Music and language are highly interconnected. They’re so similar that we often play a game of “chicken or the egg” with them.
Since music plays such a large role in the development of language, music therapy has been prevalent in the science of speech therapy.
While working with children on the spectrum, imitating animals noises is a popular activity because it’s important, easy, and enjoyable.
The exact same logic applies to adults in all realms of music.
When we hum or babble in a particular rhythm, it expresses similarity to the sing-song intonation of language.
Reinforcing the musicality of language not only advances understanding but naturalizes the flow of words.
Sensory Integration as Speech Therapy for Autism
If hearing or vision processing are impaired, you can bet language will be out of whack as well.
As these disruptions are prominent among people diagnosed with ASD, learning to speak and write can be frustrating.
This is especially horrible when sensitivities arise towards particular frequencies.
Sometimes you can’t hear a sound at all. Sometimes a simple stirring or rubbing can induce overwhelming.
An inability to hear a particular phoneme (language noise) hinders the processing of it whatsoever.
Fortunately, speech-language pathologists are specially trained to overcome these barriers.
Right on, Sally. With the advantage of modern technology, she can use white noise to muffle the noise and thus reduce the intensity.
On the other hand, she could use warning signals to indicate a certain sound is coming.
All of this can help you adapt to and fine-tune sounds, which in turn fine-tunes language.
It’s not just semantics. The way we use “semantic” here really matters.
“Semantics” refers to the meaning of words in a literal, contextual, or relative sense.
In semantic therapy, our focus isn’t necessarily literal definitions, but on function (i.e., how do you use it?) and association (i.e., what does it go with?).
Although someone on the spectrum may get a wonderful grasp of words, it’s likely that they may not understand the connotation of the words they’re using very well.
It’s been shown that a common symptom of the spectrum is struggling with expressing social cues, feelings, attitudes, values, or perceptions.
And it goes both ways. Recognizing these mental states in others is a different steep.
It’s not a whole other mountain, though.
By training the visual-auditory processing of different words in the sense of their category, usage, and implied meaning, the natural expression of empathy can burst forth more freely.
One example activity is semantic mapping, where the SLP and their student create a diagram of a sentence or conversation.
Not only does this let the individual actually see the conversation–as people with ASD are highly visual learners–, they can diagnose how they’re doing socially.
Do they need to ask more questions, or even more relevant questions? Are they using words properly? Are they fully expressing their emotions?
These are the problems we tackle with semantic intervention.
Thoughts on the Future
Our professionals are thoroughly trained in today’s most effective speech-language therapy procedures, but only time will tell what will come about in the future.
As research builds up, we pursue greater heights for people with autism of all origins.
Rest assured, however, you can rely on us at the forefront of online speech therapy for autism, always seeking out the latest, most substantial tactics.
No matter the regional, financial, or physical circumstance, we’re here to help you.
It’s not too late.