Speech Services

Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have  a wide range of speech capabilities. This can range from little or no expressive language to highly developed language skills with some associated pragmatic language impairments. As a parent you are in the best position to work with your child to improve attention, communication interest, language intent and language skills. This is done in conjunction with a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) and is incorporated into home and school settings.

Individual and group support is determined by the needs an capabilities of each child. Some children with ASDs are overwhelmed by sensory and environmental stimuli and respond best to small or individual settings. The focus is on the integration, acceleration and expansion of imitation and social communication. Treatment by a speech-language pathologist is appropriate for all children with an ASD. Useful or communicative speech can be achieved by most children with ASDs. No child should be excluded due to age, lack of prior speech service gains, lack of prerequisite skills, or low IQ scores. The focus must be on services based on intense close collaboration and subsequent extension to group intervention for social skill training when appropriate. Traditional pull out services are often ineffective due to the lack of frequency, intensity and the limited environmental integration of services to natural settings throughout the day. Training for parents, teachers, peers and all caretakers must be integrated into the speech services. The goal is to promote functional communication in natural settings both in and out of the home.

Augmentative communication strategies can be very effective in increasing functional communication. This often involves a Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and the use of gestures, signs and alternative communication techniques. Let no stone unturned. Find the type of interaction your child enjoys and prefers and utilize it to facilitate communication. Initially the communication may be unidirectional about what your child wants but the goal is reciprocal communication where there is sharing of feelings, thoughts, words and actions. Augmentative strategies do not hinder the long or short term ability to talk. By increasing symbolic language they increase future ability to speak and communicate.