Speech Therapy For Autism Spectrum Disorder
Does My Child Have Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a life – long developmental disability, affecting how a person relates to his/her environment and other people. Children with autism have difficulties with social communication & social interaction, and also have restricted & repetitive behaviours or interests. Difficulties can range from mild to more extensive difficulties needing ongoing support.
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of autism are present during childhood and throughout a person’s life, although symptoms may improve over time. Some children with ASD show very early signs while others might not show signs until 24 months or later. Some children with ASD are reported to develop normally until around 18 to 24 months of age but then stop gaining new skills, or lose the skills they once had.
A child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder might:
- Not respond to their name consistently
- Not point at objects to or hold up things to show another person
- Not play ‘pretend’ games
- Have limited use of eye contact for interaction
- Play a lot by themself, and show little interest in other children
- Have delayed speech and language skills
- Frequently repeat words or phrases that have previously been heard (echolalia)
- Give unrelated answers to questions
- Get upset by changes in routine
- Have fixated and or unusual interests
- Show unusual movements e.g. Flap their hands, spin in circles, rock back and forth
- Have unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel
A diagnosis of autism can be made by a paediatrician, psychologist or psychiatrist. ASD can be detected at 18 months or younger, and it is common for diagnoses to be made from 2 years. Many children still do not receive a final diagnosis until older.
ASD Causes and Risk Factors
We do not know all of the causes of ASD, there are likely to be different causes – including genetic, neurological and environmental factors. ASDs occur in all groups in society, but are almost five times more common among boys than among girls. It is estimated about 1 in 88 children are identified with an autism spectrum disorder.
Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Research shows that early intervention treatment services can greatly improve a child’s development. Early intervention services help children learn important skills such as talking, walking, and interacting with others. It is important to seek help early on as early intervention leads to the most positive outcomes. Treatment for particular symptoms, such as speech therapy for language difficulties, may often commence before for a formal ASD diagnosis is made.
Types of Treatments
Speech therapy helps to improve the child’s expressive and receptive language, play and social interaction skills. There are many different types of therapy available.
At Time to Talk – Kid’s Speech Therapy we have therapists trained in the most effective child autism treatment programs:
- The Hanen programs:
- It Takes Two to Talk – This program was designed for parents of children up to 5 years who have been identified as having a language delay. Parents learn practical strategies to help their children learn language throughout the day.
- More than Words – This program was designed for parents of children up to 5 years who have been identified as having autism spectrum disorders. It provides parents strategies to help their children develop social skills, ability to engage in back-and-forth interactions, and understanding of language
- Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship-Based Approach (DIR; also called “Floortime”) Floortime focuses on encouraging children to interact with parents and others through play
- Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication-handicapped Children (TEACCH)
This approach looks at the child’s skills and strengths and aims to build on these to promote development. A structured learning environment is used to help children understand how daily life works so that they can become more independent.
- Use of symbols
The use picture symbols to facilitate interaction, aid comprehension and teach communication skills.
Let us know if you have any queries, or would like to make an appointment. If you have difficulties taking your child to an unfamiliar environment, we can do home, kindy or school visits. We are experienced at helping children with ASD – from young children who are nonverbal to children with high functioning autism
We are registered with Medicare to provide services under the Enhanced Primary Care Plan (Allied Health Initiative for Chronic Disease Management) and are approved providers of services for families accessing the Helping Children with Autism Package (through FaHCSIA). Our Private practice has a HICAPS machine with EFTPOS and credit card facilities. We can provide private health insurance rebates on site.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov/autism
Page last updated: December 20, 2013
2. Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect): www.autismspectrum.org.au
3. Raising Children Network: www.raisingchildren.net.au
(The article used was developed in collaboration with Cheryl Dissanayake and Cherie Green, Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre, La Trobe University).
Last Updated 20-11-2013
4. Hanen Centre: www.hanen.org