For children with autism, language and communication are areas of daily life that are affected by developmental delays or behavioral impediments. Speech-language therapy can help improve verbal and non-verbal communication as well as social cues to improve your child’s functional use of these skills.
Because no child with autism faces the same challenges, having a speech-language therapist working with your child’s ABA framework and other professionals will be a great form of support for them and your family. If you’re wondering how speech therapists can help your child specifically, read below to see the role they can play.
What is Speech-Language Therapy?
Speech-language therapy for children with autism is designed to address impediments with language, communication, and social skills. It can be used for the purposes of improving spoken language, nonverbal signs and gestures, or using alternative means of communication such as technology.
A typical speech-language therapy program will begin with an evaluation for a speech-language pathologist in order to assess your child’s strengths and weaknesses. From there, they will create an individual framework alongside whatever other treatment programming your child is enrolled in.
How do Speech Therapists Help Children With Autism?
Speech-language therapists can help children with autism in a profound number of ways. From correcting small tics and impediments to taking on speech disorders that have just been diagnosed, the best SLPs are working closely on improving acute issues that affect everyday life for your child.
Some examples of skills that a speech-language pathologist might work to help improve include:
- Receptive language skills
- Strengthening of muscles in the neck, jaw, and mouth
- Modulating tone of voice
- Using technology for alternative forms of speaking
- Verbal prompt/response cues
- Matching emotions and facial expressions for common social settings
- Articulation, pronunciation, and speech patterns
These are just some of the areas that SLPs work to improve in children and adults. During your child’s initial assessment with a speech-language pathologist, it will be important to provide context into prior diagnoses, overt impediments, or concerns you may have as a parent. From there, a quality SLP will audit further and create programming to enhance your child’s overall skills.
A speech-language pathologist may also be able to help a child with autism better their social communication goals. This could include work in a small group setting or one-on-one therapy to address micro-components of social dynamics.
Additionally, there are exercises to role-play dialogue and communication in settings such as:
- Children and adults interaction
- Student and teacher communication
- Appropriate behavior in public
- Workplace communication
- Socializing with friends and family
Whatever your child’s ABA framework is composed of will contribute to how they practice their social skills both in a clinic, at home, or in generalized settings. Always communicate with your SLP about the best way to help your child achieve the goals of bettering their social skills and how you can help at home.
When an SLP works with children who have ASD, they look to solve specific impediments within language skills while growing others at the same time. Some of the communication and language skills an SLP might work on with your child include:
- Conversational flow
- Following directions
- Pronouncing early words and full sentences
- Solving repeats or stutters
- Verbalization of emotions and needs
- Using words instead of challenging behaviors to affect change
These are just a small portion of the basic exercises and corrective actions that an SLP can implement in programming for a child with autism. Some SLPs have found success using Alternative Augmentative Communication methods, as well – be sure to ask your practitioner if this is something they have experience in.
If your child has been diagnosed with a speech disorder or your licensed SLP diagnoses an impediment that can be improved, they will work hand-in-hand with you and other specialists to make sure the care is integrated into other frameworks. Common speech disorders for children with autism include:
- Childhood Apraxia of Speech
- Voicing issues
- Speech sound disorders
- Orofacial myofunctional disorders
- Selective Mutism
A critical element of seeing an SLP is the early diagnosis for some of these conditions. If your child has been exhibiting symptoms of any of these but you aren’t sure of the official diagnosis, getting in to see a licensed SLP can make all the difference in their corrective trajectory. Be sure to discuss the best course of action with your child’s ABA clinician or therapist as well.
Get the Best Results for Your Child with Ally Pediatric Therapy
At Ally Pediatric Therapy, our clinic has a full suite of licensed specialists, including SLPS who combine the evidence-based methods of treatment in our ABA frameworks. We pride ourselves on having decades of experience in treating children with autism and helping them grow their speech and language skills for a more dynamic life.
If you are looking to take the next step in integrated care for your child and family, please reach out to us today – we’d love to start a conversation.