Autism affects speech and language growth along with a lack of social and communication skills in individuals. They sense trouble producing vocal sounds to communicate with others and the verbal sounds they speak (utter) are also difficult to hard recognize. The communication and speech issues seen in individuals with autism include:
Partial or complete loss of speech
Talk in a sing-song mannerism
Utter sounds like grunts and shrieks
Babble word-like sounds
Repeat what a person says (echolalia)
Say sentences without an expressive tone
While facing these challenges, individuals with autism slip into depression or adopt an aggressive behavior as they are unable to convey their wants and desires. They need to learn how to communicate in a language or hold a conversation. For autism speech therapy includes building verbal and nonverbal prompts such as facial expressions, signs, body language and voice tone.
Programs for speech therapy for autism begins with a thorough evaluation of the individuals by speech therapists to assess their verbal and communication challenges. Some of the common goals of autism speech therapy include improving both spoken language and learning nonverbal skills using an alternative method such as pictures.
Speech therapists work on areas such as:
Strengthening the jaw muscles
Perfecting speech sounds
Using correct facial expression
Recognizing the body language
Responding to a question with an apt answer
Deciphering what pictures represent
Modulating of the voice tone
Techniques for non-verbal individuals
Throughout the speech therapy sessions, the therapists work closely with individuals having major trouble with non-verbal skills. For speech therapy for autism, therapists introduce various techniques to help them express themselves. These techniques include:
Use of pictures with words also known as a ‘picture exchange’ to help them communicate
Use of over- or under-sensitive sounds to expand their speech-sound bank
Massaging and exercising of facial muscles for improving pronunciation
Benefits of speech therapy for ASD
Speech therapy for autism improves the overall communication skill in individuals. This helps them to improve their relationships and to function well in life.
The goals of speech therapy for helping individuals include:
Express themselves with the right words
Communicate verbally as well as nonverbally
Initiate meaningful communication without prompts
Know when to use words such as ‘good morning’, ‘thank you’, ‘please’, etc.
Communicate to develop friendships and improve relationships
Enjoy playing and interacting
With early identification of autism symptoms and intervention to treat speech issues, speech therapists help to improve communication skills. Using a speech-related app, individuals with autism can develop language skills on an iPad, iPhone or Android phone.