Speech Pathology for Children with Autism
Speech Pathologists play an essential role in the development, education, and inclusion of children with autism of all ages.
How do Speech Pathologists help children with autism?
Speech Pathologists help children of all ages improve their ability to communicate with the world around them. The overall goal for Speech Pathology is to maximise an individual’s communication skills and reduce their barriers to engaging with others and participating in their community.
While autism is lifelong and there is no ‘cure’ for autism, Speech Pathologists have the knowledge, skills, and training to make significant improvements in a child’s quality of life with the support of their family, parents, and teachers.
Speech Pathologists can help children to:
- Engage and interact with others.
Speech Pathologists are trained to enhance a child’s ‘pre-verbal communication skills’ which are the tools they need to participate in back-and-forth interactions. Skills like taking turns and making eye contact can be explicitly taught and encouraged through therapy. Read more about Pre-Verbal Communication Skills here.
- Understand what others are saying.
Speech Pathologists can help children to better understand verbal messages (i.e., what someone is saying with words) and non-verbal messages (i.e., what someone is saying with their face, body and tone of voice). Read more about Language Delay in Children or Supporting Primary School Students with Language Difficulties here.
- Express their wants and needs.
Speech Pathologists nurture a child’s ability to communicate in whatever way makes the most sense to them. This may include verbal language, written language, sign language, symbolic/picture supports or even implementing a more advanced Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) system for a child to use every day. Read more about Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) here.
- Speak clearly.
Speech Pathologists conduct speech and articulation assessments to ensure that a child’s speech sounds are developing as expected. Any late-developing or difficult sounds can then be targeted through therapy so that a child becomes easier to understand. Read more about Speech Sound Development in Children here.
- Read and write.
Speech Pathologists are specially trained to assist children with autism to improve their reading and writing skills. Literacy development in children is closely linked to speech and language development. This means that children with difficulties in one area are more likely to experience difficulties in another.
- Improve their social skills.
Speech Pathologists are experts in social communication and have vast experience in the ‘quirks’ of autism and the varying communication styles that children with autism may present with. Speech Pathologists work closely with a child to ensure they have the tools they need to interact successfully with their peers and to form positive friendships with the people around them. Read more about Social Communication Therapy for Children and Social Communication Therapy for Adolescents here.
- Improve mealtimes.
Speech Pathologists know all about the muscles of the mouth and throat and, as a result, are also trained to make sure that children are swallowing safely. Speech Pathologists may also work with other professionals (such as Occupational Therapists and/or Dieticians) to expand a child’s diet if they are ‘picky eaters’ or have sensory preferences.
Speech Pathologists also play an important role in advocating for children with autism and ensuring that they have access to all the same opportunities and experiences as their peers. This may include speaking with teachers about how best to support a child at school or educating family members on how best to communicate with a child at home.
Rest assured, your Speech Pathologist will be in your child’s corner and will do everything they can to help your child succeed and thrive!
Contact us today to find out how a Speech Pathologist from our team can support your child with autism. Call us on 1300 086 280 or email us at [email protected] to book an initial consultation.
Britto et al., (2017). Nurturing Care: Promoting Early Childhood Development. The Lancet, 389 (10064), 91-102.
Camarata, S. (2014). Early Identification and Early Intervention in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Accurate and Effective? International Journal of Speech Pathology, 16 (1), 1-10.