Speech therapy for Autism is so much more than just assistance with pronouncing sounds. Speech therapy can assist your child with Autism in a number of ways, including conversation skills; body language and other non-verbal communication methods; and concept skills. It’s tailored to your child’s existing capabilities, drawing on them and expanding their skill set. Like any treatment, the earlier a start is made the greater chance of improvement.
Augmentative and Alternative Communication for ASD
Speech therapy for Autism can include many different treatment methods. Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices and methods can be useful for those with little or no understandable speech or language. A machine or iPad app can be programmed to talk for a person in extreme cases, but more commonly a set of PECS (Picture Exchange Communications System) cards can help express meaning by displaying a picture and name of the word required. Professionally produced cards are not required as these cards can be made at home with photographs of familiar objects, cuttings from magazines or hand drawn pictures with the subject’s name written underneath the picture. The child or carer can then use these cards instead of, or to supplement speech to communicate.
Other ways to foster communication with people with Autism
Speech therapy sessions are important for measuring and monitoring progress and ensuring the right areas of concern are targeted. However there are some general ways of interacting with your child that can assist and reinforce communication.
Give your child the opportunity to initiate and direct communication where possible. You may need to create a situation where they have to interact with you, for example having a new book on their favourite subject for them. Be prepared to follow up their efforts with positive reinforcement of the behaviour you are looking for.
Try reading this new book together, taking turns pointing out items of interest in the pictures or text.
Ensure you are giving enough time for responses to be made, and that you are not racing ahead of your child.
Sometimes sensory issues like touch can be very intense for people with Autism so finding a physical activity that your child will find soothing, like playing with uncooked rice or coloured water, will give a good starting point for discussion whilst calming them down at the same time.
Autism presents a number of challenges for parents, every single day. Seeking speech therapy for Autism can greatly reduce your child’s frustration (and your own) especially if you work with a professional Speech Pathologist experienced with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Vince Borg, Vicky Andrews, Genevieve Tierney, Rochelle Vizelman, Jocelyn Leung, Dr Lisa Furlong and Ella Mechelan all have a special interest in speech development and language difficulty. Book your child an appointment with a speech therapist at Box Hill Speech Pathology Clinic on (03) 9899 5494 or direct your child speech therapy questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.