One of the defining characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a problem with speech, language, and communication. As with every other symptom of autism, speech difficulties can have an almost infinite number of variations. Some children may be completely non-verbal, while others only have trouble picking up non-verbal cues like facial expressions or hand gestures. More than half have a co-occurring condition known as apraxia, which makes it physically difficult for them to form proper speech sounds. Thus, speech pathology for autism is a vital area of treatment.
Difficulties communicating can make even the simplest things frustration, especially for someone already coping with the other issues associated with autism. As a result, many parents of children with Autism reach out to a speech-language pathologist for help.
What Is a Speech-Language Pathologist?
A speech-language pathologist (SLP) is someone who specializes in identifying, diagnosing, and treating problems people have with a spoken language. Sometimes called speech therapists, SLPs receive extensive training and specialize in a broad range of specific subjects, including working with adults and children.
As the name suggests, it’s very common for an SLP to work with a patient on verbal skills like making sounds, speaking fluently, and articulating well. But their expertise carries over into related fields. For instance, an SLP can also help a child with Autism communicate—helping them arrange words to express thoughts, needs, and ideas—be it verbal or written.
Speech pathologists also help with the social aspects of communication, which is particularly helpful for children with Autism. Individuals with ASD typically have trouble with non-verbal cues like facial expressions or body motions, as well as the more subtle uses of language (e.g., exaggeration, sarcasm, metaphor). This type of treatment proves extremely useful in a work or school environment.
How Does Speech Pathology for Autism Work?
The primary goal of a speech-language pathologist is to ensure that a child can express him or herself freely and spontaneously. In other words, they need to be able to let their needs be known independently, without prompting or cajoling.
Beyond that, there are many ways that an SLP can work with a child, including:
- Assessing individual language, communication, and social skills
- Screening those with speech-language problems, determining needs and recommending next steps
- Instructing educators and other professionals on how to work with people with ASD
- Diagnosing or helping to diagnose ASD
- Identifying the need for and providing augmentative and alternative communication methods. For instance, sign language, iPads, picture exchange communication systems
- Making referrals to other medical professionals for diagnoses
- Creating or helping create Individual Educational Plans (IEP) for students with ASD
- Increasing awareness of ASD and advocating for individuals and their families
Communication problems are incredibly frustrating for children with Autism as well as their families. If you’re looking for help through speech pathology for autism, we recommend that you reach out to us. Ascend Autism provides comprehensive care for children and their families, including speech pathology for autism.
ASD is a challenging and complicated problem. But with the right support, you can help your child live a life as unique and beautiful as they are. To learn more, call 877.323.8668.