To understand how children with autism can benefit from speech therapy with the help of a speech-language pathologist, we should first discuss what autism is and how it manifests and affects development in children. We should also discuss how speech pathology works, and then we can put the two together and get a picture of how speech therapy can help an autistic child communicate and learn more easily.
Autism, or the autism spectrum, refers to a range of developmental disabilities that run from mild social discomfort and difficulty empathising with others to more extreme cases involving the inability to speak, very repetitive actions, verbal or physical ticks, and behavioral problems.
A child with autism may have a very restricted set of interests, such as a fascination with trains or trucks, or they may have difficulty or the seeming inability to connect with others socially. Normal parts of development, like making friends, are often very difficult for children with autism.
Identifying a Child With Autism
Parents are quicker to identify communication and development problems with nonverbal autistic children than they are with children who can speak but who may have difficulty communicating and interacting the way “normal” children do.
If you are concerned that your child may have some form of autism, look for a few specific traits.
Children with autism may have difficulty holding eye contact during a conversation. They often show distress when changing activities or topics, as well. Change in routine will most likely bother them to a greater extent than you might expect. Autistic children often do not make or understand common gestures, like pointing or waving, and they also often have trouble learning to read.
Quite often, the only way an autistic child can communicate that they are ill at ease or that they want something is to throw a tantrum. Even when they do speak, autistic children often speak with little or no inflection or in a sing-song voice.
Speech pathology, by definition, is the treatment of language and speech disorders. Speech pathologists specialise in speech-language therapy, working to coordinate acts of communication with the physical mechanisms of speech.
By working one-on-one with an autistic child who has some verbal abilities, a speech pathologist or speech therapist can often build a rapport with them and begin to work with the child to improve their communication and speech skills.
Quite often, the child will have specific gestures or sounds that mean specific things to them but that others will not understand. By working with the child, a speech therapist can come to understand how the child communicates and begin to build on their communication style to translate it to more common language.
How Can a Speech Pathologist Help Your Child?
At first, you may not notice a big change in your child’s behavior and communication. This is because it takes time to build trust and to learn how an autistic child communicates. At first, most of your child’s speech therapy sessions will involve play and trust-building activities.
Once the speech therapist has gained your child’s trust, they will begin working on associating speech and language communication with your child’s natural sense of communication. Children who work with speech therapists often learn to understand and make common gestures. They become more comfortable maintaining eye contact, and they learn how to tell you and others how they feel without throwing a tantrum.
Speech pathologists have been working with autistic children for years to understand how this development disorder works and how to assist children who have it.
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.