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Speech therapy is often one of the most common therapies parents seek when looking to support their child with autism. Brenna Donovan, Speech Pathologist at Kids First Children’s Services in Sydney’s northern beaches, has supported hundreds of children with ASD and explains how speech therapy helps kids who are ‘on the Spectrum’.
Speech therapy can help children with autism in a variety of ways.
Language delays are quite common in children with autism.
Speech therapists often play an integral role on the child’s therapy support team.
Here are some of the ways that speech therapy can help a child with autism:
Expressing their wants and needs
Expressive language delays are very common in children with autism. Speech therapy can address ways to help a child learn to communicate their wants and needs. A speech therapist may teach the child to use sign language, pictures, gestures or words to help them begin communicating in a meaningful way.
Understanding what is said to them
Listening and following instructions can be very difficult for a child on the autism spectrum. Speech therapy can help a child learn new concepts such as big/small, before/after, many/few, first/last. Learning concepts like these can also help children to follow instructions that contain these concepts. Children in speech therapy often will practise following one, two and three step instructions as well.
Following daily routines
Some children with autism can have difficulty when their routine is changed. During speech therapy sessions, children can practise following a visual schedule of activities. They can also practise following along with what an adult is asking them to do, rather than their own agenda.
Flexibility in play skills
Rigid and obsessive play skills can be a trait of autism spectrum disorder. Helping children to become more flexible in their play skills is an important part of speech therapy. As they become more flexible and less rigid in play, they can also transfer this flexible thinking to daily life. This flexibility can help children interact more effectively with their peers.
Parent training is a big part of speech therapy. A speech therapist may only spend a short time with your child each week, but as the parent, you have the power to make the biggest difference. Learning strategies and techniques from a speech therapist who is trained in working with children with autism is an excellent way to help your child. Using techniques at home that were learned in therapy ensure carry over of skills to different settings as well.
If your child is on the autism spectrum, speech therapy can be a key part of your child’s success. Be sure to seek out a speech therapist who has experience working with children on the autism spectrum.
Does your child with Autism need help?
Kids First’s speech pathologists, occupational therapists and psychologists have years of experience and have helped hundred of children and families living with Autism.
Find out how we can help by when you click on the image below, or call us on (02) 9938 5419 to chat about your child’s needs