There are many benefits of speech therapy for Autism. According to the National Institute of Health, Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the name for a group of developmental disorders. ASD includes a wide range, “a spectrum,” of symptoms, skills, and levels of disability.
People with ASD often have these characteristics:
- Ongoing social problems that include difficulty communicating and interacting with others
- Repetitive behaviors as well as limited interests or activities
- Symptoms that typically are recognized in the first two years of life
- Symptoms that hurt the individual’s ability to function socially, at school or work, or other areas of life
Autism can affect speech, language development, and social communication in different ways for each individual..
Speech Issues with Autism
A person with autism may:
- Grunt, cry out, yell, shriek, or make other harsh sounds
- Not develop the ability to talk
- Hum or talk in a musical way
- Use correct phrases and sentences, but with an inexpressive tone of voice
- Make sounds that sound like words or robotic-like speech
- Repeat what another person says (Echolalia)
- Babble with word-like soundstage without coherence
Since autism is on a spectrum, some have trouble producing speech sounds to effectively communicate with others. The the person may have developed language skills, but it may simply be too hard to understand.
Communication Issues with Autism
A person with autism may have one or more of these communication challenges:
- Memorization of things heard without comprehension of what has been said
- Not understanding meaning of words outside the context learned
- Trouble with conversational skills such as eye contact and gestures
- Using echolalia as the main way to communicate
- Lack of creative language
Benefits of Speech Therapy for Autism
Because of these communication issues, those with autism must do more than simply learn how to speak. They must also learn how to use language to communicate, including how to hold a conversation and tuning into both verbal and nonverbal communication cues from other people.
Speech therapy techniques might include:
- Electronic “talkers”
- Signing or typing
- Using picture boards with words, known as picture exchange communication systems that start out using pictures instead of words to help a child learn to communicate
- Using sounds to which a person is over- or under-sensitive to expand and compress speech sounds
- Improving articulation of speech by massaging or exercising lips or facial muscles
- Having individuals sing songs composed to match the rhythm, stress, and flow of sentences
- Some of these techniques are supported more by research than others. Be sure to discuss them thoroughly with the speech-language pathologist and your child’s pediatrician.