April 15, 2019
Autism can create a variety of challenges both for your child and your family as a whole. Speech and communication difficulties can be frustrating for everyone, as well as holding your child back both socially and academically.
Fortunately, you don’t have to cope alone. Speech therapy can help you find new and effective ways to manage these challenges and provide appropriate support to your young person.
Speech therapy for autism
Language and communication barriers can be a significant difficulty for people with autism to overcome. One of the biggest misconceptions about autism is that all people with autism are affected by it in the same way. In fact, the way in which autism affects each person varies tremendously. While one person may be completely non-verbal, others may have fairly advanced vocabulary but not understand body language or how to read social cues. Additionally, each child with autism will have their own sensory needs that must be met in order to facilitate learning. For example, some children learn better when they are moving/standing, while others learn better when they are sitting in a space that helps them feel grounded. For this reason, every speech therapy program that we implement is based on the specific needs of each child.
When your child first visits our office, he/she will undergo an evaluation with one of our three, highly trained and licensed speech and language pathologists. This will enable us to identify strengths as well as challenging areas. This will help us to create individual goals for a speech therapy program.
Ways in which speech therapy can support your child with autism
There are a variety of skills that speech therapy may be able to strengthen in your child with autism, which in turn will help improve your child's ability to communicate with and better understand those people around him/her. These include:
Developing a communication system
Learning how to attend to others
Learning the importance of language to get their needs met
Matching emotions with a suitable facial expression
Modulating tone of voice
Responding to and asking questions
Sign language and other forms of alternative augmentative communication
Social skills and making friends
Understanding body language
Making clearer speech sounds
By improving your child’s communication skills, we can help enhance your child’s quality of life both now and in the future. This includes your child’s day-to-day activities, personal relationships, academic potential and eventually, various aspects of adult life.
Benefits of speech therapy for children with autism and autistic spectrum disorders
There are a number of specific goals that speech therapy can help your child achieve. These include:
Communication: both verbal and non-verbal
Developing conversational skills
Enjoying communicating and interacting with those around them
Better articulation of words
Improved understanding of the use of certain phrases, for example saying ‘good morning’ in the morning, or responding to a question with an open rather than one-word response
Initiation of conversation and communication rather than relying on others
Self-regulating how and when they talk to others
Understanding the intention of others from both language and non-verbal cues
However, it is important to bear in mind that not all of these will be applicable to every child, and your therapist will work with you to set realistic, accomplishable goals for your child based upon their individual circumstances.
The sooner that speech therapy is sought, the less likely your child is to be affected by speech and communication difficulties as he/she gets older. Therefore, prompt diagnosis and obtaining the support your child needs could make a significant difference to their future.