Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Speech Therapy and Autism Compliments of Always Unique Totally Intelligent Sometimes Mysterious (On Facebook)

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Benefits of Speech Therapy for Autism

Autism may be linked with a wide range of traits. These include:

Repetitive activities

Extreme resistance to changes in daily routines

Unusual responses to things such as touch

People with autism may have major problems with both speech and nonverbal communication. They may also find it very hard to interact socially. For these reasons, speech therapy is a central part of treatment for autism. Speech therapy can address a wide range of communication problems for people with autism.

Each child with an autism spectrum disorder will have his or her own individual pattern of behavior. Sometimes, a child's development is delayed from birth. Other children with autism develop normally before suddenly losing social or language skills. In some children, a loss of language is the impairment. In others, unusual behaviors (like spending hours lining up toys) predominate. Parents are usually the first to notice something is wrong. Symptoms of autism include: Extreme difficulty...

What are the common speech and communication problems with autism?

Autism can affect speech, language development, and social communication in many ways.

Speech problems. A person with autism may:

Not talk at all

Utter grunts, cries, shrieks, or throaty, harsh sounds

Hum or talk in a musical way

Babble with word-like sounds

Use foreign-sounding "words" or robotic-like speech

Parrot or often repeat what another person says (called echolalia)

Use the right phrases and sentences, but with an unexpressive tone of voice

About one out of three people with autism has trouble producing speech sounds to effectively communicate with others. Their language is simply too hard to understand.

Communication problems. A person with autism may have one or more of these communication challenges:

Trouble with conversational skills, which includes eye contact and gestures

Trouble understanding the meaning of words outside the context where they were learned

Memorization of things heard without knowing what's been said

Reliance on echolalia as the main way to communicate

Little understanding of the meaning of words or symbols

Lack of creative language

Because of these challenges, a child with autism must do more than learn how to speak. The child also has to learn how to use language to communicate. This includes knowing how to hold a conversation. It also includes tuning into both verbal and nonverbal cues -- such as facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language -- from other people.

What role does speech therapy play in the treatment of autism?

Speech-language pathologists are therapists who specialize in treating language problems and speech disorders. They are a key part of the autism treatment team.

With early screening and detection of people at risk, speech therapists often lead the way in helping with the diagnosis of autism and in making referrals to other specialists.

Once autism is diagnosed, speech therapists assess the best ways to improve communication and enhance a person's quality of life. Throughout therapy, the speech-language pathologist also works closely with the family, school, and other professionals. If someone with autism is nonverbal or has major trouble with speech, the speech therapist may introduce alternatives to speech.

Speech therapy techniques might include:

Electronic "talkers"

Signing or typing

Using picture boards with words

Using sounds to which a person is over- or under-sensitive to expand and compress speech sounds

Improving articulation of speech by massaging or exercising lips or facial muscles
Having individuals sing songs composed to match the rhythm, stress, and flow of sentences

Some of these techniques are supported more by research than others. Be sure to discuss them thoroughly with the speech-language pathologist and pediatrician.

What are the benefits of speech therapy for autism?

Speech therapy can improve overall communication. This makes it possible for people with autism to improve their ability to form relationships and function in day-to-day life.

Specific goals of speech therapy include helping the individual with autism to:

Articulate words well

Communicate both verbally and nonverbally

Comprehend verbal and nonverbal communication, understanding others' intentions in a range of settings

Initiate communication without prompting from others

Know the appropriate time and place to communicate something, for example, when to say "good morning"

Develop conversational skills

Exchange ideas

Communicate in ways to develop relationships

Enjoy communicating, playing, and interacting with peers

Learn self-regulation

When is the best time to start speech therapy for autism?

The earlier, the better. Autism is usually evident before age 3. It is very important to start speech therapy as early as possible, when it can have the greatest impact. Intensive, individualized treatment can help lessen the disabling isolation that may result from this social communication disability.

With early identification and intervention, two out of three preschoolers with autism improve communication skills and their grasp of spoken language. Research shows those who improve the most are often those who receive the most speech therapy.

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