Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD can be defined as a complex neurobehavioral condition that
includes impairments in social interaction and developmental language and communication skills
combined with rigid, repetitive behaviors. The word “spectrum” indicates the wide variation in
the range and severity on how people are affected with Autism, and the difficulties they face. As
the symptoms range in a wide-variety, this condition is called Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Autism is a neurological disorder that involves impaired communication, social interaction and
cognitive skills. Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD involves a wide range of other behaviors
such as repetitive actions, unusual responses to senses such as touch, inability to interact with the
environment around and showing extreme resistance to changes in daily routines. People with
Autism have difficulties not only with speech but also with non verbal communications, which
makes them tough to have social interactions. Hence, speech therapy has been the central focus
of all the Autism therapies.
Communication Difficulties
Communication includes semantics and pragmatics of language, where semantics means
understanding the meaning of words and pragmatics refer to the social use of the language. The
individuals with Autism face problem with these communication difficulties like understanding
the meaning of words spoken by others and the usage of those words, appropriately. The Speech
Language Therapist aka SLT will work with the individual and the immediate family members in
promoting further language and skill development.
The main symptoms that indicate the necessity of speech therapy, for an Autistic child, include
the following.
 Not talking at all
 Unable to express basic wants
 Making unusual sounds like sudden grunts, shrieks, or cries

 Talking, murmuring or just humming in a musical way
 Using alien-speech like words or sounds
 Not responding in a conversation or for a question
 Repeating words or phrases said by anyone around
 Babbling with word-like sounds
 Difficulty in following instructions
 Using words or phrases with a perfect-timing, but without an expressional tone
Though they try to communicate, their language will be too hard to understand. Behaviors like
the above are more commonly observed in Autistic children and they need speech therapy for
better communication skills.
 Echolalia:
They mostly try to repeat the words said by someone around or the speaker him/herself. Such a
meaningless repetition of someone’s spoken words, as a part of a psychological disorder is called
as Echolalia.
Non-verbal difficulties
Children with Autism face communication challenges that keep them away from social
interaction. The non-verbal difficulties they face include the following.
 Having poor conversational skills like maintaining eye-contact or proper body language
 Meaning of some words that are out of context, are not understandable
 Unable to understand the meaning of what is said but can memorize the words
 Using Echolalia is to communicate when unable to answer
 Unable to understand the meaning of signs, symbols and some words
 Ignoring or avoiding others
 Preferring to play alone
 Not being responsive to someone
 Dislike being touched
 Difficulty in expressing emotions
 Lack of creative language
So, an Autism child has lot to do while coping with these difficulties, such as trying to
understand what others say, learning how to use language, interpreting both verbal and non-
verbal cues from others like facial expressions, tone of voice and body language.
Use of Speech Therapy
Speech therapy can address a wide range of communication problems for people with Autism.
Speech therapists are the specialists who are trained in treating speech disorders and language

problems. With early screening, speech therapists can help with the diagnosis of Autism and can
refer to other specialists relating to their treatment.
Speech therapists design the treatment plan according to their requirements and also work
closely with their parents, other family members, friends and relatives who are associated with
the person getting treated. Educating parents and training other important people in child’s life
are pivotal in successful therapy. If the person is completely unable to speak, the speech
therapists can suggest alternative ways to help them communicate.

The following are some of the few techniques that can be used to improve language
comprehension and expression.

o Matching: helps in understanding e.g. Object to object matching, picture to
picture and picture to object matching etc
o Sorting: Classifying the items to respective categories helps child to improve
o Imitation: Encourage the child to repeat the word after you.
o Modeling: Modeling can be used before or after the child makes a comment. The
adult offers more information to the child. The adult’s sentence structure is more
o Echoing: Repeat the child’s utterance back to him (electronic talkers can be used)
o Binary choice: Provide with two or more choices and make the child choose and
express the intended word.
o Sentence expansion and completion: Elaborate the child’s utterance by providing
more information
o Demonstrating actions: Physically act out the information said.
o Use the visual mode: it has been seen that children with autism understand better
with the visual mode than any other modes. So, use the visual mode along with
other modes. Using picture boards with words helps them understand the meaning
of the word.
o Repetition: Be ready to repeat the instructions again and again to the child. We
must understand that the child finds difficult and may not understand what you
say the first time. Pronouncing the words intended repeatedly with expressions
will help them in understanding.

Such techniques help an Autistic child to improve the speech and language skills. These can be
done at home with the support of a speech therapists and the child’s pediatrician.

Outcomes of a Speech Therapy
The goals of Speech therapy aim to help the individual with Autism to achieve the following
 Communicating both verbally and non-verbally
 Understanding other’s intentions well
 Articulating words to match the scenario
 Initiating a conversation
 Exchanging ideas
 Regulating oneself
 Developing conversational skills
 Enjoying communicating, interacting and playing with others
 Knowing the proper time to greet others or to initiate conversations
These are all can be achieved slowly with a regular practice of speech therapy under the
guidance of professionals. Intensive and individual treatments can help lessen the affect of social
communication disability.
Autism is a neurological disorder that can exhibit similar symptoms as mentioned. Having
speech and language difficulties is one of them. Whenever you notice some difference of such
sort in your child, consult a professional to diagnose the disorder. It is common that kids without
Autism are also likely to have speech problems. Though the names differ, speech and language
issues that are observed during childhood are to be treated as early as possible. Early intervention
and correct diagnosis helps your child recover as soon as possible. Whether the child suffers
from Autism or not, undergoing a speech therapy can help them to be on par with normal ones.
In case, you observe any difference in your child, take a step forward and consult a professional
speech therapist today to know the problem your child is facing. Book an appointment to meet a
specialist, today.

Categories: Wellness


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