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Communication-related issues are one of the primary indicators of Autism Spectrum Disorders, these issues can manifest in many forms such as: not talking at all, making strange sounds, use of words that have no meaning, lack the right tone to sentences, repeating what others are saying robotically (echolalia), etc. In the case of Autism Spectrum Disorder merely learning the language is not enough, as there is an emotional aspect to the use of language and communication, which is very difficult for the child to comprehend or practice by themselves.
Speech therapy is the practice done by speech-language pathologists who are equipped and trained to deal with language-related problems and disorders. Once the child receives the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders, there are specific needs that need to be catered, speech therapy can help in the following ways:
- Understanding the speech of others – Children with ASD tend to understand communication from others with great difficulty. A speech therapist works on building the fundamental understanding or the receptive language in the child. It is essential for the child because, without receptive language, the parents, teachers, and therapists can’t work with the child adequately.
- Using speech to demand needs – One’s ability to express themselves is known as the expressive language. The child with ASD has difficulty in communicating about their needs, this might manifest as behavioral issues, due to frustration. In https://momsbelief.com/, the child learns to communicate their needs healthily and effectively.
- Speech clarity – Children with ASD tend to have difficulty in pronouncing words clearly, and this is in combination with other symptoms. Some of these include echolalia or repeating the words of others, making throaty or harsh sounds, use of robotic or unfamiliar speech, etc. All these issues are addressed in speech therapy.
- Developing speech in nonverbal children – In some cases, children with ASD have delayed developmental milestones, which means the child fails to achieve expression at the appropriate age. Speech therapy helps children who are falling behind or those who are yet to make it.
- Improving oral motor sensitivity – Oral motor sensitivity refers to the strength of the facial muscles and overall functioning of the mouth area. Oral motor issues are caused by problems in the nerves, it might be a be present since birth, or it may develop due to trauma or injury. A speech therapist addresses these issues through various techniques.
- Swallowing and feeding – Difficulty in swallowing and feeding is caused by oral-motor issues. Difficulties in chewing, eating, drinking, identifying taste, etc. are often co-morbid with ASD. Through various exercises, a speech therapist provides tailor-made interventions. This is one of the most essential benefits of speech therapy.
- Vegetative functions improved – Vegetative functions are all basic bodily needs that are important in sustaining life such as eating, sleeping bowel function, etc. A speech therapist aids in enhancing these functions for the child.
- Language skills ¬– A speech therapist promotes the development of language skills through interactive and fun activities so that the child is engaged and can learn more efficiently. These activities include the use of storybooks and videos as well.
- Confidence & self-esteem – Development of speech and language skills helps the child in adapting more to their environment, this increases confidence and self-esteem.
- Pre-academic speech skills – The vital speech and language skills required for academics is developed via speech therapy before the child is sent off to school. This is very essential to form a strong foundation of language in the child, for the longer run.
- Controlling behavioral issues – Due to communication-related challenges, children with ASD find it difficult to express their own needs. To compensate for this, they tend to communicate through means that are not socially acceptable, such as temper tantrums. Speech therapy curbs these tendencies. Speech therapists might also work in collaborations with child behavior specialists to formulate and achieve specific goals.
- Parental training – The parents of children with ASD work in collaboration with the speech therapists to achieve the therapeutic goals. Home-based activities are allotted to the parents to be practiced with the child.
- AAC alternate communication in children who are mute – Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is the technique of communication that is taught to those who are unable to acquire speech despite all interventions. This is very important to the day-to-day functioning of the child.
- Developing social language skills – Children are taught social communication such as greetings, appropriate body language, and other conversational techniques so that they can interact effectively with their peer groups.
- Parental confidence – Since an essential part of speech therapy is collaborative work with parents, their confidence in being able to support their child increases exponentially. Parents also receive on-going support form the speech therapist.
There are multifold benefits for providing speech therapy to children who have been diagnosed with ASD. You can try out Autism centers that provide the services of speech therapy, it might go a long way in the life of your child.
by Akshay Sharma