Autism is one of most complex but common conditions that can affect the ability of a person to lead a completely normal life. Very common in children, autism can be effectively improved through speech therapy.
Autism is a developmental disorder which usually shows up by the age of three and can include a wide range of traits. These traits include repetitive activities, extreme resistance to changes in daily routines, unusual responses to things such as touch and inability to interact with environment. The major problems autistic people experience are with both speech and nonverbal communications. They find it difficult to interact with people and this is where speech therapy comes as a central part of the treatment. Speech therapy can effectively help improve communication in autistic people. Image courtesy: tamercome.blogspot.com
Autism can affect speech, language development and social communication in several ways. Some of the common speech problems associated with autism include not talking at all, making utter grunts, crying or making throaty and harsh sounds, talking in a musical way, babbling with word-like sounds, using foreign-sounding words, often repeating what others say, or using phrases and sentences with an unimpressive tone of voice. Autistic people find it hard to produce speech sounds while communicating with others. Image Courtesy: Getty
Communication problems include having trouble with conversational skills which include eye contact and gestures, difficulty understanding the meaning of words, memorization of things heard without even getting its meaning, reliance on echolalia (repeating others words) and lack of creative language skills. An autistic person may have one or more of these communication challenges.
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A speech pathologist is a therapist who specialize in treating language problems and speech disorders and can play a key role in the treatment for autism. The early screening and detection can help the therapists in the diagnosis of the autism. Once autism is diagnosed, speech therapist looks for best ways that can improve communication and enhance the patient's quality of life. Image Courtesy: Getty
Speech therapy techniques may include electronic talkers, signing or typing, use of picture boards with words, use of sounds to which is a person is over- or-under-sensitive to expand and compress speech sounds, improvisation of articulation of speech by massaging or exercising lips or facial muscles, having individuals sing songs composed to match rhythm, stress and flow of sentences. Image Courtesy: Getty
Speech therapy can be very effective in improving the overall communication, enabling people with autism to develop relationships with others and improving day to day life functions. Image Courtesy: Getty
The main goals of speech therapy include articulation of words, verbal and non verbal communication, understanding others’ intentions in a range of settings, initiating communication without prompting from others, knowing the right time and place to communicate, development of conversational skills, exchange of ideas, better communication in order to develop relationships and learning self regulation. Image Courtesy: Getty
The early you start, the better will be the results. Autism can be identified before the age of 3 years while language delays can be recognized as early as 18 months of age. However, in some cases, it can be identified early i.e. between 10 to 12 months of age. It is crucial to start speech therapy as early as possible to reap better results. Starting speech therapy at the right time can help lessen the dissabling isolation which could lead to social communication disability. Image Courtesy: Getty
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