Speech therapy for autistic people can be beneficial in many ways: it generates noticeable growth in spoken language, AAC, building and maintaining meaningful relationships, and self-advocacy.
Early intervention is key to supporting autistic children, so there’s no time like the present to begin your journey.
In this blog, we’ll look at the following:
- What is speech therapy used for?
- Benefits of speech-language therapy for Autistic children
- Speech-language therapy routines for Autistic children
- How to start your child in speech therapy for autism
- Is speech therapy for autism covered by insurance?
What is Speech Therapy Used for?
While autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a unique and personal experience for every child, there are common techniques that are used by most speech-language pathologists (SLPs). Speech therapy is used to improve or enhance an individual’s communicative abilities for the purpose of establishing and maintaining meaningful relationships through autonomous communication. With a multi-disciplinary approach, success and growth is often achieved.
Benefits of Speech-Language Therapy for Autistic Children
Improving your child’s overall communicative pathways is one of the main goals of speech-language therapy. While autistic children will have varying challenges and experiences, the end objective is lifelong success. Some of the most common benefits of speech therapy are:
- Improved spoken language skills.
- Written language development.
- Noticeable improvement in speech impediments, such as stutters or speech sound disorders.
- Navigating meaningful social situations (which leads to increased social interactions).
- Understanding how non-speaking (gestures, facial expressions) language impacts communication.
- Learning an alternative or augmentative mode of communication (AAC)
With an emphasis on early intervention, the consistency of speech therapy also plays a significant role in improvement. Having a conversation with your clinician about how to best integrate speech therapy into your family’s routine will help with generalization and progress.
Speech-Language Therapy Routines for Autistic Children
In order to generate consistency in your child’s speech therapy routine, we recommend activities both in the clinic and at home. Small group therapy or one-on-one sessions will provide mechanics your child can bring into their daily environments. Speech-language activities for autistic children might include:
- Practicing articulation targets
- Providing routines and consistency that promote predictability
- Engaging in preferred play activities that interest the child- such as sensory games with objects such as bean bags or bottles
- Modeling and accepting alternative modes of communication (ACC)
While your SLP will be an important part of your child’s care, you will still be your child’s most consistent teacher and steadfast advocate. Caregivers partnering with a child’s ABA and speech therapy is crucial for well-rounded support.
How to Start Your Child in Speech Therapy for Autism
Speech therapy can be conducted in several settings, including a private clinic, school-provided IEP, or at home. Multi-disciplinary clinics provide an opportunity for various professionals to work together for the support of your family. These clinics often have in-house speech-language pathologists who work hand-in-hand with other licensed therapists to provide the best care plan for your child.
Is Speech Therapy for Autism Covered by Insurance?
Most health insurance covers speech therapy for autism but check with your insurance provider before beginning treatment. Speech therapy is often written into academic IEPs as a part of your child’s educational program, which will present no cost to your family.
Similarly, there are also organizations (such as AHCCCS) that cover medically necessary speech therapy. Speak to a speech language pathologist about a plan that works best for your family today.