Learning your child is diagnosed with autism may be a difficult pill to swallow. You might find relief learning that many children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) go on to live very fulfilling and independent lives.
A clinical evaluation to diagnose autism spectrum disorder is not to be taken lightly, but it’s important to remember that experts have been studying how to improve development for children with ASD for decades.
When it comes to helping your child with autism learn to talk, it’s important to find an expert you trust, that your child is comfortable with, and that has the patience and experience to help your child expand their speech skills.
What is autism?
Autism spectrum disorder is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as a “complex developmental condition that involves persistent challenges in social interaction, speech, and nonverbal communication, and restricted/repetitive behaviors”.
It’s important to remember that even if your child is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, their symptoms and capabilities can not only range, but also change over time.
Does autism cause speech delay?
No, autism spectrum disorder does not cause speech delay. It is important to differentiate that while speech delay is common in children with autism, they are also common in children that do not have autism.
Typical children will respond to social cues and reinforcement that fosters organic language development. Through positive affirmation, normally a child will develop language over time through exclamations — try “yay!”, “woohoo!”, or “good job!”. If these cues don’t produce a response from your child, this may be indicative of barriers to social communication that are common in children with ASD.
Many people with ASD have normal intelligence, while many others experience mild or severe intellectual delays, according to the American Psychiatric Association.
At what age should you worry about a child not talking?
If your child hasn’t begun to talk, or perhaps regressed in speech comprehension or articulation, it is important to notify your pediatrician. You may be concerned, but it’s important not to jump to any conclusions about a speech or language delay.
If you haven’t received a clinical diagnosis for your child, you may be asking yourself, “is it normal for my one-year-old to not be talking?” While most babies can speak at least a few words by their first birthday, many healthy toddlers may not start speaking until their 18-month milestone.
A general range for when most children say their first word is somewhere between 10 to 14 months.
For specific situations when a parent should be concerned about their child’s language development, please check out our post on 1 Year Old Speech Milestones.
If you feel as though your child’s speech development is behind, it is important to share your concerns with your child’s pediatrician to discuss and evaluate their language development.
If you’re wondering “what age do autistic children talk?”, it’s tough to say exactly. Because autism spectrum disorder varies in severity with each child, there is no hard and fast rule.
It is not uncommon for children with ASD to begin developing speech in the same manner as typical children, as well as to regress in speech and language comprehension around two years old. Children with ASD may have difficulty connecting the meaning of words with other similar words, as well as communicating with adults or other children.
Other than speech delay, there are a number of other factors that may indicate a child should be evaluated for a developmental disorder. Affected children may have difficulty using and understanding non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, and body language. Generally, social interactions do not come easily for children with ASD.
What should you not say to a child with autism?
There are a number of inappropriate things you should never say to a parent or child with autism spectrum disorder:
- “But you don’t look like you have autism!”
- “I’m sorry you have autism”
- “Don’t worry, everyone’s a little autistic”
- “I have social issues too, maybe I have autism”
- “Autism is just an excuse to ignore people or behave rudely”
- “You don’t care about anyone but yourself”
- “So, are you really good with computers?”
- “Wait a minute, I met someone with autism, and they aren’t like you”
What are some things you should say to a child with autism?
If your child has ASD, some friends, family, or even colleagues may find it difficult to know what is appropriate to say to them or how they can talk to you about your child’s unique needs. Here are a few recommendations to share:
- “Do you need help with anything?”
- “Oh, that explains a lot about why they walk back and forth, or sometimes don’t feel like talking”
- “Can you explain what autism is to me?”
- “I’m here if you want to talk”
- “How about you join us for lunch?”
Is autism hereditary or genetic?
It is not uncommon for ASD to occur more than once in families, but research is not yet conclusive on inheritance patterns. Children with genes associated with ASD may inherit increased risk of developing the condition, rather than actually receiving an ASD diagnosis.
There is no such thing as an autism gene; however, there has been significant research to indicate that certain rare chromosomal abnormalities may increase the likelihood of a baby developing autism. However, possessing the gene does not mean a child will be diagnosed with ASD.
If your child has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, you may find yourself wondering, “does autism come from the mother or father?”. Both parents can carry gene mutations that result in their child being diagnosed with ASD.
Boys are nearly 5X as likely to be diagnosed with ASD. Research indicates that girls may be resistant to certain genetic mutations that contribute to autism and disproportionately impact boys.
How we can help your child with autism learn to talk
At Great Speech, we work with a variety of children and adults, all of which receive individualized instruction unique to their own challenges with speech.
Autism spectrum disorder is a complex diagnosis and no two children with ASD are exactly the same, so we recommend scheduling your introductory phone call to learn how we can implement a plan to help your child speak clearly and confidently.