Almost everyone with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is advised to take speech therapy. The reason for this is that many children with ASD have compromised or limited speech and have a hard time forming words and sentences. At the same time, they also confront major non-verbal communication problems such as maintaining eye contact and playing with other people. For these reasons, speech therapy has many benefits for children with autism.
“Traditionally, intervention for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has focused upon reducing interfering behavior and teaching language, academic and self-help skills.” –Marlene Driscoll, MA, LMFT
Develops The Ability To Express Their Needs
These children sometimes have a hard time expressing both their want and needs. Sometimes, they do not learn spoken language bit by bit; instead, they do it in “chunks.” For example, they repeat these long chunks of sentences from their favorite TV shows and stories without fully understanding what these mean. Experts call this disorder echolalia.
With the help of speech therapy, they learn how to communicate verbally and non-verbally with other people and exchange ideas with their peers properly. It is crucial in building relationships not only in the comforts of their home but also outside of it.
Some children with ASD have a difficult time applying correct grammar even if it’s taught both in school and at home. The most common grammar mistake they do is referring to themselves in the third person. For example, instead of saying, “I want to eat cereals,” they’ll say, “John wants cereals.” With this in mind, speech therapists target this skill and guide them into correcting these grammar mistakes.
Helps Them Understand What Others Say To Them
One of the difficulties of having ASD is the inability to comprehend both verbal and nonverbal communication that other people try to tell you. Speech therapy teaches them to recognize cues such as facial expressions and body languages and translate these to understandable messages. Speech therapy also gives them the capability to initiate individual and group communication without having to wait for others to do so.
“It is painful and difficult to identify, because so many neurotypical partners see these as problems existing within in themselves, rather than as their reactions to confusion, to feeling systematically ignored, or to feeling not heard for many years.” –Sarah Swenson, MA, LMHC
Assists Their Articulation Skills
Aside from improving their comprehension, speech therapy also targets the improvement of the children’s articulation skills. Articulation refers to the physical movement of the lips, palate, tongue, and jaw. All of these parts should be able to coordinate correctly to produce speech sounds.
However, it is challenging to work these parts together in the presence of ASD. Therefore, speech therapists guide the child to produce sound patterns or speech sounds to improve his or her overall speech intelligibility.
Addresses Speech Fluency
Children with ASD experience various communication disorders like interjections, prolongations, and repetitions. Displaying these behaviors tends to lower their self-confidence. With the help of speech therapy for autism, the patients learn strategies on how to increase their speech fluency and control their stutters.
“Often, kids, teens and adults on the spectrum spend a lot of time trying to be “normal”, fighting sensory overload and overwhelm, fending off personal quirks, and trying so hard to “fit in”,socially and otherwise.” Karla Helbert, LPC, E-RYT, C-IAYT said. Just like other medical diagnoses, the earlier you detect and treat speech problems, the higher the chances of addressing them thoroughly. Usually, children utter their first words around their 18th month and form basic phrases and sentences on their 24th month. It means that autism is detectable at the age of 3. Therefore, it is recommended to start therapy early for it to be more beneficial and useful for children with autism.