Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a broad range of developmental disorders and is commonly identified in young children as their communication skills are developing and becoming more complex. ASD can result in challenges related to speech and language in a wide range of ways and severity. Just as Autism is considered a spectrum, so too is the degree to which certain skills and areas are affected. Some people with Autism may not have any challenges related to speech and language while some others may struggle significantly and in some cases, some people with ASD are completely non-verbal. Time with a speech-language pathologist (SLP) can be an incredibly valuable resource for people with ASD. SLPs specialize in helping people to grow and develop their speech, language, and communication skills as well as help to build and foster such things as confidence and independence. Speech therapists will also work closely with the parents and other caregivers of the child to help equip them with the appropriate tools, skills, and strategies to effectively support and care for their child at home. If you would like to learn more about speech therapy for people with Autism spectrum disorder or how one of our highly specialized therapists could help you or your child, contact us and schedule your free introductory call today!
Can Speech Therapy Help Children with Autism?
Speech therapy helps children with autism refine and improve their speaking abilities, improve non-verbal communication skills, and teaches them how to use alternative methods of communication. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) also work with parents to develop various approaches and strategies that will help to improve their child’s communication skills. These strategies are always tailored to match the child’s existing abilities, communication contexts, and the needs of the family as a whole.
How Does Speech Therapy Help Children with Autism?
Treatment and support through an SLP can benefit children with ASD in a wide range of ways. Spending time with a speech-language pathologist will help to determine where the challenges and deficits lie for each child. It will also help to identify whether a child has a social communication disorder, oral motor disorder, or other condition that may also be affecting their speech and language skills. It is important for the speech-language pathologist to identify the cause of the speech and language challenges in order to create an appropriate and effective treatment plan.
Each treatment plan will look different and will be specially tailored to meet each child’s needs and goals. A treatment plan for a child with autism may focus on a few, several, many, or all of the following approaches.
- Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
- Activity schedules/visual supports
- Play-based interventions
- Computer or video-based instruction
- Behavioral interventions
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Social communication and relationship-based interventions
- Literacy Interventions
- Parent-implemented interventions and coaching
- Routine-based interventions
What are the Benefits of Speech Therapy for Children with Autism?
Speech therapy can help children with Autism Spectrum Disorder to develop such skills and concepts as:
- Increasing strength in the mouth, jaw, and tongue muscles
- Matching pictures with their meanings
- Improve the clarity and articulation of speech
- Increase awareness and understanding of body language and facial expression
- Regulate the tone and volume of the voice
- Learn to use alternative methods of communication such as American sign language, the use of flashcards or written words
- Adapt to and strategize about feeding challenges
- Strengthen social skills in various situations and environments such as school, at home, and within the community
- Improve overall independence, confidence, and ability to self-advocate
While there is no known cure for ASD, early intervention with speech therapy for children with Autism has shown the best outcome for improvement of existing skills and the ability to develop new skills. You can learn more about how speech therapy can help someone with ASD by scheduling your free introductory call today!
Do Speech Therapists Diagnose Autism?
When it comes to identifying and diagnosing ASD, it is important for medical and healthcare professionals to work together because of the complex nature of this disorder and the variety of areas and aspects that can be affected. It can also be difficult to diagnose autism and distinguish this disorder from other medical conditions and disorders. In an ideal situation, the SLP plays a major role in the interdisciplinary team, and the members work together to establish a diagnosis. If there is a situation where a team of specialists and healthcare professionals is not available, an SLP who has been appropriately trained and educated in the clinical criteria for ASD and is also experienced and knowledgeable about the diagnosis of developmental disorders could be qualified to arrive at a diagnosis as an independent professional.
How Can I Help My Child with Autism Develop Speech and Language Skills?
Parents have a closer and stronger relationship with their child than even their most beloved SLP, and so parents must play a major role in the treatment plan and support of their child. Interventions led by parents usually have highly positive outcomes for both the child and the other family members. This can ultimately result in reduced stress on the family of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Involvement by the parents and other caregivers will help them to develop a stronger bond with their child, and they are able to better understand their child and have the skills and strategies to encourage communication in ways they didn’t notice or weren’t aware of before.
It is important for parents to implement specific and appropriate strategies and interventions to support and encourage their child’s learning and development. Some of the most simple and straightforward of these strategies are:
- Following the child’s lead
- Providing opportunities for your child to communicate and waiting patiently for a response (resist the urge to communicate on their behalf)
- Engaging in parallel play or conversation
- Using visual supports or alternative methods of communication
The SLP will also provide activities and methods to be used at home, between appointments. These will be specifically created to target your child’s goals and strengthen concepts and skills introduced to your child during their appointments. Caring for a child with autism can be challenging, and many parents feel alone or unsupported in their role. It is important to know that help and support are available, and connecting with an experienced and knowledgeable SLP is easier than ever with Great Speech. Don’t delay, help is at your fingertips – schedule your free introductory call today!