For a child with autism, speech therapy can be extremely beneficial in a number of ways including but not limited to direct verbal communication. Speech-language therapy offers social skills growth, interactive learning, and can integrate into a larger ABA framework to help your child overcome numerous developmental delays.
If you are considering speech therapy for your child with autism, we recommend reading more about the benefits of speech therapy and how it can change the trajectory of your child’s development. Early detection of impediments is one of the keys to overcoming them, so there’s no time like the present to commit to a brighter future.
What is Speech Therapy Used for?
While autism is a very uniquely personal condition for every child, there are commonly used techniques that most SLPs and ABA clinicians will prescribe. The results have shown that using these ABA principles alongside the classic speech therapy techniques will contribute to better verbal and non-verbal communication, increased aptitude in socialization, and even help with physical impediments like chewing and swallowing.
Like most techniques that work alongside ABA principles, speech therapy for autism works best when it is quantified and dynamic. Taking your child to see an SLP for an assessment and diagnosis will help create better results from speech therapy the sooner you do it. From there, your licensed therapists and SLPs can help your child in a myriad of ways for a better life.
Benefits of Speech-Language Therapy for Children with Autism
Improving your child’s overall communicative pathways is one of the main goals of speech-language therapy. Though one child with autism will have drastically different challenges and needs than another child, the idea is always to allow them to express themselves successfully. Some of the most common benefits of a speech-language pathologist for children with autism include:
- Identifying and improving weaknesses in spoken language skills
- Written or oral language development
- Fixing speech impediments such as stutters or speech sound disorders
- Understanding and employing social cues in conversation
- Acknowledging instructions and following them accurately
- Dynamic dialogue in multiple environments
- Making eye contact and gesturing in conversation
- Employing creative language outside of known patterns
- Enjoying expression and the exchange of ideas with peers
While we always emphasize early identification and intervention, the consistency and amount of speech therapy also plays a significant role in improvement. Thus, having a conversation with your SLP and ABA clinician about how to best integrate a speech-therapy routine into your family’s daily life is paramount once you have decided your child is in need of assistance.
Speech-Language Therapy Routines for Children with Autism
In order to create consistency for your child’s speech therapy routine, there should be established exercises in the clinic, at home, and in combination. Ideally, intensive small-group therapy or one-on-one sessions with an SLP will have mechanics that your child can generalize to your home and other environments. Some speech-language exercises for a child with autism might include:
- Teaching them to ask for “more”, or another single word that engages a prompt/response behavior
- Having them create a daily calendar or routine using a picture board or tablet with familiar options
- Sensory games where there are objects such as beanbags, bottles, or water-laden objects that they need to describe
- Verbal and non-verbal ‘choice’ sessions in which a child with autism must select an option and try to describe why they made it
- Sorting objects by shape, color, size, or other familiar descriptors for the child
It is important to familiarize yourself with these options as well as discuss your child’s specific plan of care with their speech-language pathologist. Even with advanced techniques being performed in the clinic, you are still going to be your child’s most consistent teacher and advocate, so being integrated into their ABA and speech therapy treatment is vital.
How to Start Your Child in Speech Therapy for Autism
Speech therapy can take place in a number of settings including a private clinic, at school through an IEP, or at home. Because we recommend that most therapy for autism be performed through the evidence-based principles of ABA therapy, it is typically a good idea to work through your child’s clinic.
At quality ABA clinics, they will often have in-house SLPs who work hand-in-hand with other licensed therapists and BCBAs, or they will refer you to qualified providers. We also advise checking to see if your speech therapists have a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC-SLP) and what their scope of work is regarding children with autism. Luckily, most top-notch Autism clinics have stringent qualifications for their speech therapist roles.
Is Speech Therapy for Autism Covered by Insurance?
Speech therapy for autism is often covered by health insurance, but make sure to check with your insurance provider and therapists’ office. Speech therapy is often written into IEPs as a related service for your child’s educational program, which comes at no cost to your family.
Similarly, there are also organizations (such as AHCCCS) that cover medically necessary speech therapy and have clear verbiage about autism being under this umbrella. Once more, it is advisable to speak with your ABA clinician or get a consultation from one if your child is not in a program yet.
Get the Best Speech-Language Therapy at Ally Pediatric
At Ally Pediatric Therapy, we are passionate about providing the best integrated speech therapy services alongside our ABA framework. We have decades of experience helping children develop language and communication skills, and hold our therapists to the highest standards of modern treatment.
If you are looking to make a difference for your child and family, please reach out to us today. Our team would love to start a conversation about the next steps for success.