Autism affects speech in very significant ways, making the proper use of language challenging.
The intensity of impairment in language and speech delays often varies from child to child.
To counter the problem, some of the best speech therapists for autistic children came up with a few methods to support your child with autism that work to improve several areas of communication.
But what does it mean for your child to have autism, and what is an Austin speech therapist’s role?
Read on to find out more.
What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental condition that involves challenges with communication, social interaction, limited interests, repetitive behavior, and cognitive and emotional abilities.
Basically, it affects the way a child’s brain develops.
Autism spectrum disorder affects one in four hundred children and typically occurs from birth to the first three years of life.
However, autism spectrum disorder is notoriously under diagnosed – especially among girls.
While autism is considered a lifelong disorder, the challenges and impairment in functioning changes from child to child.
What Are The Signs Of Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Signs of autism spectrum disorder may be noticed as early as one year old, increasing in visibility by the time your child is two or three.
In some cases, the functional impairment related to autism may be mild and not apparent until your child starts school.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the patterns to watch for.
Repetitive Behavioral Patterns
Is your child inflexible with their behavior?
Repetitive behavioral patterns refer to extreme difficulty coping with change and an intolerance of changes in routine and new experiences.
Children with autism spectrum disorder may become overly focused on a particular subject, expressing zero interest in others.
Repetitive behaviors also include rigid movements like hand flapping, rocking, or spinning.
You may notice your child fixates on arranging things in a very particular manner or repeats tasks they’ve already completed.
Social & Communications Issues
Does your child have an aversion to maintaining eye contact?
Difficulty making friends or keeping them?
Trouble appreciating others’ emotions or their own?
These are all common social and communication issues of autism spectrum disorder.
Not only is the child’s social life impacted, but also their fundamental understanding of social cues and gestures.
You may find your child is interpreting abstract ideas more literally or lacks the understanding of non verbal gestures altogether.
Pay attention to your child’s speech as they begin to form words and sentences.
If you’re noticing any of these speech or communication impairments, get your child into speech therapy as soon as possible.
You may want a specialized evaluation by a developmental pediatrician or child neurologist, but these tests and follow ups can take a lot of time.
It is recommended by The American Academy of Pediatrics to start researching therapies as soon as you suspect your child has autism spectrum disorder, rather than wait for a formal diagnosis.
What Causes Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism spectrum disorder has no single known cause.
Given the complexity of the disorder, and the range in severity of symptoms, there are probably many causes.
Both genetics and environment are likely to play a role.
For some children, autism spectrum disorder can be associated with a genetic disorder, such as Rett Syndrome or Fragile X Syndrome.
It’s also common for those with Down syndrome to also be autistic.
It’s also interesting to note that there tends to be a higher rate of autism spectrum disorder in the transgender community.
One study shows that up to 20% of transgender people show signs of autism spectrum disorder.
As a result, voice training for trans women and other trans people must be autism aware.
One study on autism and apraxia of speech showed that two thirds of children diagnosed with apraxia of speech were also autistic.
That’s a significant amount with any disorder, but even more so with apraxia of speech since it’s a relatively rare condition.
As a result, speech therapy treatments for childhood apraxia of speech must also be autism aware.
There are definitely cases of autistic people who also seek speech therapy treatments for stutter, but a causal relationship has yet to be established.
For other children, genetic mutations may affect brain development or the way that brain cells communicate, increasing the risk of autism spectrum disorder.
Some genetic mutations seem to be inherited, while others occur spontaneously.
Researchers are currently exploring whether environmental factors such as viral infections, medications, air pollutants, or complications during pregnancy play a role in triggering autism spectrum disorder.
What about vaccines as a precursor to autism?
Despite extensive research, no reliable study has shown a link between autism spectrum disorder and any vaccines.
The original study that ignited the debate years ago has been since retracted due to poor design and questionable research methods.
How Can Autism Spectrum Disorder Affect Speech?
The affects of autism spectrum disorder on the development of speech ranges drastically from case to case.
It’s possible your child may have no communication issues at all.
On the other hand, they may lack the ability to communicate verbally altogether.
Some children with autism spectrum disorder communicate only in shrieks, grunts and throaty sounds, or nonsensical sounds that might resemble words.
Some recite words from memorization, but don’t understand what they mean or what context to use them in.
It is quite common for children with autism spectrum disorder to repeat words and phrases and sometimes speak with a singsong quality.
How Can Speech Therapy For Autistic Children Help?
Speech therapy is a central part of treatment for autism.
It can help people with autism spectrum disorder improve their abilities and reduce their symptoms.
Early intervention speech therapy for autism – during preschool or before – improves the chances for your child’s success, but it’s never too late to start treatment.
We specialize in helping children with speaking, communicating, and interacting with others.
Our therapy sessions can involve nonverbal skills like making eye contact, taking turns in a conversation, and using gestures.
It’s even possible in some cases to teach kids to express themselves using augmentative and alternative communication options, like picture symbols, sign language, and computers.
If you suspect your child has autism spectrum disorder or they’ve received a diagnosis at any age, an Austin pediatric speech therapist can help.
Any speech therapy treatments begin with an assessment of your child’s abilities.
From there, your speech therapist will construct a plan to help your child communicate.
In the case of nonverbal autism spectrum disorder, your speech therapist may use devices such as electronic talkers, picture boards, or other forms of augmentative and alternate communication systems.
Book An Appointment With Sol Speech And Language Therapy Today
If you’d like to learn more about how speech therapy can support your child with autism spectrum disorder, book a free phone consultation with Sol Speech and Language Therapy today.
Our speech therapists are professionally trained to help children with autism overcome their language and communication difficulties.
During your consultation, you’ll have the chance to outline your child’s personal challenges and together we’ll set manageable goals.
Contact us to book an appointment today.
6448 E Hwy 290 Suite E-106,
Austin, TX 78723
Sol Speech & Language Therapy
555 Round Rock W Dr E-221,
Round Rock, TX 78681
Sol Speech & Language Therapy offers personalized skilled intervention to those struggling with their speech and language skills. Services offered include screening, consultation, and comprehensive evaluation. We also provide one-on-one and/or group therapy for speech sound disorders, receptive/expressive language delay/disorder, stuttering/cluttering, accent reduction, and much more.