Speech Therapy for Autism

Speech Therapy for Autism

What is Speech Therapy for Autism?

Speech therapy for autism aims to recognize the challenges that autistic children may experience when communicating. It helps improve their skills, boosting confidence in their ability to communicate.

Communication challenges vary between individuals, and speech therapy can help to address:

  • Verbal communication, such as speaking and holding a conversation
  • Nonverbal communication, such as understanding gestures
  • Social communication, such as recognizing cues and expressions


Who is Speech Therapy for Autism for?

Children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often have challenges when trying to communicate their needs or use their voice in a social situation. This is where speech therapy will help strengthen their communication skills in a variety of settings.

 Anyone can be born with autism. Parents may usually start to notice that something is different about the way their child communicates in their early years, and seek an evaluation and diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder so that they are able to receive the support they need.

Every child experiences the world differently. The strengths and challenges they face on a daily basis are as individual as the child themselves. This is why individualized speech therapy is a must.

What does Speech Therapy for Autism involve?

Every child’s needs are unique and so speech therapy could incorporate lots of different methods.

To start, a speech-language pathologist (SLP) will evaluate your child to understand their communication level, strengths, and areas where they may need help.

Speech therapy for autism activities may include:


Verbal communication exercises

Common goals can include improving verbal speech skills, which could be the physiological side of speaking, especially if your child has trouble swallowing or speaking, and the more general side such as context and when to use speech to communicate.

Exercises can include:

  • Strengthening the muscles in the jaw, throat, and mouth
  • Pronouncing words correctly
  • Understanding how to respond to questions and when to ask them
  • Understanding idioms and figurative speech
  • Developing vocal dynamics
  • Explaining feelings and emotions

Non-verbal communication exercises

This relates to how people communicate without words, in more subtle ways like gestures, that many autistic people find more challenging to understand fully.

These kinds of exercises look at:

  • Understanding facial expressions
  • Learning how to interpret gestures
  • Understanding body language


Alternative Augmentative Communication (AAC)

Many children with autism don’t speak, or find it extremely difficult to speak, so they communicate in alternative ways. Speech therapy for nonverbal autism can involve exploring Alternative Augmentative Communication (AAC) instead.

Your child may have already started to communicate using a method like this, or your SLP may introduce them to it, helping them develop their communication skills.

This type of communication may include:

  • Using sign language
  • Pointing at pictures or diagrams, for example using the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
  • Using a device like a tablet to communicate through typing


Social skills exercises

Many children with autism love to speak! However, a common challenge for autistic people is understanding social interactions and how to communicate effectively.

Your SLP may help your child understand social cues and triggers, approaching subjects such as:

  • Asking appropriate questions
  • Knowing how to start and continue a conversation
  • Learning how to behave with other people
  • Following instructions
  • How to read the ‘mood’ or ‘energy’ in a room


Spontaneous communication exercises

Many children with autism only speak when they are spoken to and don’t engage in spontaneous speech. Speech therapy for autism encourages children to ask when they need help or speak up on their own without being prompted.

If your child struggles to communicate verbally, and in turn would find spontaneous communication even more challenging, AAC can be an effective way to encourage them to initiate a conversation without being prompted.


Speech therapy for autism at home

 Only part of speech therapy happens in the therapy office. It’s important for caregivers to continue the exercises outside in the ‘real world’, to help build the child’s confidence in communicating.

Your SLP can advise on how to engage with your child, training you and other adults with the right methods and tools to continue practicing communicating at home.


What should you do next if you need Speech Therapy for Autism?

If you think your child may need an evaluation for a potential autism spectrum disorder, or your child would benefit from speech therapy for autism near New Jersey, we can help you get the answers you need.

Please contact Beyond Communication today for a free 15-minute consultation and determine if our services are right for your needs.

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