One of the characteristic issues for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder is a speech impairment. Although there are three levels of autism, children can develop difficulties with communication early on.
Benefits of Speech Therapy for Autism
Speech therapy can not only address issues of limited verbal communication but also positively influence your child’s self-esteem. Once you know your child has a speech disorder, it’s time to learn about the great benefits of speech therapy for autism.
How can speech therapy be applied for Autism?
This wide-ranging field can address a variety of speech and communication disorders. From mild stuttering to selective mutism, speech therapy can be the millstone for an learning verbal communication, and much more.
A certified SLP (speech-language pathologist) can help autistic children open up. There are a variety of techniques, tools, play therapy, and formal tests that can be implemented. They will help work on perfecting pronunciation, eliminate stuttering, and other difficulties with speech.
While most medical insurance policies cover the costs of speech therapy, there are private tutors and school therapists. There is even online speech therapy available. This option is convenient, affordable, and less nerve-racking for autistic children.
Speech therapy is not just for a therapy office when it comes to children with autism. Parents need to work with their child at home to support the progress gained in office. These ten speech therapy exercises for autism are a great way to keep those lessons going at home. There are apps like Innervoice and Speech Blubs.
How can speech therapy be beneficial for children with Autism?
The power of visual support
Some children may have a hard time understanding words and symbols. This is why they often rely on what is being said or mere repetition of words they don’t understand. This can also include difficulty understanding the words and sentence structures outside of the context they were learned. In these cases, providing a visual aid to give structure and meaning to words is very helpful.
Picture boards are a fantastic tool that allows children to point at a photo, symbol, or picture depicting the meaning they need to convey. Not only are they able to express their needs and opinions, but they will also work on their social skills. This will help encourage improvising and find their way when the photos don’t cover what they want to communicate.
PECS or Picture Exchange Communication System is a technique that enables a child to communicate through the exchanging of pictures/symbol cards for another item. It sounds simple – the child hands over the card in exchange for a desired object or need, but it involves much more than mere picture association.
The parent, therapist, or SLP guides the process with additional questions, commenting, and encouraging simple constructions such as “I want” or “I need.” Slowly advancing towards constructing simple questions and then more complex sentences.
Songs and rhythm for verbal expression
Autistic children who have problems socializing and connecting with their peers may develop communication defense mechanisms such as robotic-like speech or using unintelligible words, babbling, or severe stuttering.
They may use echolalia (repeating other people’s words as they are uttered) changing of voice pitch, gestures or repetitive movements.
Children may find relief using songs and rhythmic patterns as a positive reinforcement for “smoother” communication. Similarly, engaging in activities such as singing and learning the piano is fantastic for autistic children’s social communication skills and brain connectivity.
Autistic children more easily recall words and sentences through songs. They associate melody and rhythmic patterns with a specific meaning. Moreover, through singing and dancing, they connect speech with something positive and relaxing. They are better able to open up and even start conversations on their own.
Stimulation of facial muscles
Speech therapy can also include massaging facial muscles and incorporating speech exercises to help better articulation. As children get accustomed to physical touch, they can relax and deal with touch aversion.
This technique should be approached thoughtfully, as patience and proper handling are a must. In time, the child will feel comfortable and safe enough to utter sounds and later work on more elaborate communication.
Advanced tools and aid
Depending on the diagnosis, a speech pathologist may decide to include electronic talkers, teach sign language or typing as a way of primary communication.
Severe speech disorders in autistic children are often not indicative of detrimental cognitive impairment. Mute autistic children understand everything spoken to them. They are just unable to respond verbally.
Benefits of Speech Therapy for Autism
Body language, sign language, or typing can be a gateway to communication and are no less important than verbal speech. Speech therapy can provide adequate tools and mechanisms for discovering effective ways of communication other than verbal.
As you can see, there are several amazing benefits of speech therapy for autism, for both children and adults. For more amazing information, check out our other articles on speech and language disorders.