Autism Spectrum Disorders
Autism affects an individual’s ability to use appropriate social skills as well as impairs verbal and non-verbal abilities to communicate. The Centers for Disease Control estimates autism effects approximately 1 in 54 individuals. Autism can be diagnosed as early as 18 months of age and often the initial red flags are delayed or disordered speech and language skills, including non-verbal language such as eye contact and use of gestures or pointing. Each individual is unique with their communication abilities and needs and benefits from a strength-based treatment program.
Know the signs
Children with suspected Autism Spectrum Disorders may demonstrate with the following:
- Having limited interest in interacting with other people
- Not look at items when pointed to
- Have difficulty interacting with others
- Demonstrate with extreme interests or obsessions
- Demonstrate with repeated body movements or actions
- Limited interest in toys or doesn’t seem to know how to play with toys
- Does not respond to name being called
- Does not follow verbal directions well
- Appears to hear sounds but doesn’t seem to understand what is being said to them
The more you know
Approximately 40% of people with autism are non-verbal. Even people who are non-verbal can learn to use alternative communication such as picture based systems, sign language, or high tech communication applications. A speech language pathologist can make recommendations on facilitating speech development and when using alternative communication systems may be appropriate.
Autism can be formally diagnosed by a developmental pediatrician, psychologist, or neurologist. The professional may utilize hands on assessments, observations, and parent interviews to determine qualifications
The core features of autism spectrum disorder include impaired language skills, and speech language pathologists are the experts in language development and treatment. A speech language pathologist can help your child acquire language skills and help fill in the gaps of skills not yet developed. Speech therapists use methods that are research-based, meaning they have been proven to work time and time again, however, they are able to see the big picture with language development and use methods that are built on the child’s strengths or interests for better progress.
learn to support your child
“If they can’t learn the way we teach, we teach the way they learn”-Dr. Ovar Lovaas
Your child is unique, and their treatment plan should be too. Treatment methods should be targeted based off strengths. Children with autistic-like traits benefit from a varied treatment approach, which should be carefully analyzed and modified as needed. Treatment methods should be research based and appropriate for the patient’s preferences, learning strengths, and purposeful.