Kids With Autism
In the past few years, thanks to caring parents and activists, the autism spectrum has got quite a bit of attention in the media. Whatever your thoughts or theories are on the causes of autism, you can most likely agree that seeking treatment and more effective means to educating and communicating with autistic children cannot be bad things.
When most people think of speech-language pathologists, they think of specialists who help correct speech impediments, who assist with language processing after brain trauma, and/or who aid people with hearing impairments to communicate aurally and through signing. These are all functions that speech-language pathologists perform, but did you know that this incredible profession has made leaps and bounds in helping autistic children with their communication skills?
Autism and Speech Problems
The autism spectrum is a wide one. Some children with mild forms of autism (such as Asperger’s Syndrome) may only have a few symptoms, such as difficulty with eye contact, problems reading others’ emotions, and preoccupation with a limited range of interests. In more severe cases, the child may be unable to speak at all or may only communicate through grunts or non-language babble. In these cases, overstimulation can lead to serious tantrums.
Children with autism often show a range of communication problems, as well. They may display:
- Failure to understand words or symbols
- Echolalia –repeating someone else’s words
- Difficulty understanding words outside of the context in which the child learned them
- Trouble with eye contact and normal gestures during conversation
For many years, children with autism got very little attention in school. A child who could not speak was thought to be mentally challenged, and would not be given much of a chance to prove themselves in any way in the classroom. Today, though, with the help of educators specialising in helping children with special needs and a great amount of research and work by speech-language pathologists, children with autism are getting a much greater chance in the classroom and in the world.
In general, speech-language pathologists specialise in speech therapy, which treats speech disorders and language or communication problems. Once a child has been diagnosed with autism, doctors will usually recommend that the parents take their child to a speech-language pathologist. A speech-language pathologist can interact with the child, determine methods for improving communication, and begin speech therapy.
Some of the tools and techniques that speech-language pathologists use to help treat children with autism include, but are not limited to:
- Touching the lips and facial muscles to assist with forming words and using speech
- Picture exchange communication, which uses labeled picture boards to help the child move from communicating with images to communicating with language
- Typing and/or signing
- Having the child sing specially composed songs to help them with the rhythm, pronunciation, stress, and flow of language
- Using sounds that the child is either under- or over-sensitive to in order to help them compress and expand the sounds they make when speaking
Children all over the autism spectrum have benefited from speech therapy. Some children are able to learn to talk using spoken language, while others continue to need the assistance of an electronic “talker” or a tablet on which to type.
No matter what mode of communication they need to use, the majority of these children have benefited greatly from working with a speech-language pathologist. Today, thanks in part to the assistance of these specialists, nonverbal and partially verbal autistic children are getting the educations they need to continue to college and to follow their dreams and careers.
If you have questions or concerns about child speech pathology contact your local doctor, who will arrange for you to see a speech pathologist. We‘ll provide you with a straightforward, efficient and very effective treatment plan targeted to your concerns.