AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERSpeech Therapy for Children
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have difficulty with socialization, communication and language. Other challenges include repetitive behaviors and interests, such as constantly stacking objects, and echolalia (repeating noises, sentences and phrases that one hears but that are not meaningful or appropriate in that context). Children with ASD are diagnosed on a spectrum from mild to severe.
There are many social communication signs of ASD. Before 12 months these may include difficulties with:
- Eye contact
- Back and forth babbling
- Responding to name
- Social smiling
- Shared enjoyment
- *Joint attention
- Social reciprocity
As children get older (between 18-30 months), signs may include limited or no vocabulary, use of echolalia, and difficulty joining words. Overall a child with ASD will pay limited attention to you and others.
*Joint attention is social sharing. This skill plays an important role in social and language development.
How Can a Speech-Language Pathologist Help?
Awareness of signs of ASD leads to early intervention. Because of communication difficulties typical in children with ASD, S-LPs are often the first point of contact. Speech-language pathologists are very important members of an ASD team. We work closely with ABA therapists, teachers and others. By teaching children to communicate we help reduce the frustrations and behaviors they may feel as a result of their inability to express themselves. As well as treating a child with a variety of techniques we provide education, tools and tips for all families and team members. Early intervention with an S-LP helps children reach their potential to communicate wants, needs, ideas and opinions with others.
Some of the things that S-LPs may work on include:
- Social communication
- Eye contact
- Understanding communication (following directions)
- Using language (gestures, vocabulary and joining words to form sentences)
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