Feb. 12, 2020, 2:40 p.m.

Autism – From The Perspective Of A Speech & Language Pathologist (SLP)

All individuals have different ways of communicating their needs, wants and opinions. Children with autism often have impaired communication skills as well as impaired social interaction and find it hard to interact socially due to an addition of inadequate cognitive skills. Hence speech and language therapy is one of the significant parts of treatment for autism, which addresses a wide range of communication problems.
 
Autism can affect speech, language development, and social communication in many ways as listed below: 
1.    They might not talk at all
2.    Presence of grunts, cries, shrieks, or throaty-harsh sounds
3.    Hum or talk in a musical way
4.    Babble with word-like sounds
5.    Use foreign-sounding "words" or robotic-like speech often repeat what another person says (called echolalia)
6.    Use the right phrases and sentences, but with an unexpressive tone of voice 
7.    Trouble with conversational skills, maintaining eye contact and gestures
8.    Trouble understanding the meaning of words outside the context of where they were learnt
9.     Compromised understanding of the meaning of words or Symbols 
10.   Lack of creative language
11.    Difficulty while holding a conversation
12.   Tuning into both verbal and nonverbal cues from other people such as facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language.
 
Speech-language therapy addresses challenges with language and communication difficulties and challenges across age groups which vary from person to person. It can help individuals with autism improve their cognitive skills, verbal and nonverbal skills and communication difficulties. The overall goal/objective is to help the individual communicate in more useful and functional ways. 
 
A speech therapy program begins with an evaluation by a speech-language pathologist (SLP) to assess the person’s communication strengths and challenges. From this evaluation, the SLP creates individual goals for therapy. 
Some of the common goals may include-
 
·      Strengthening the muscles of articulators 
·      Making clear production of speech sounds 
·      Matching emotions with the correct facial expression
·      Understanding body of language
·      Responding to questions
·      Matching a picture with its meaning
·      Improving spoken language
·      Learning nonverbal skills such as signs or gestures or learning to communicate using an alternative methods (low/high technology aids) for communication.