For many children with autism, the ability of speech and communication varies for every child depending on where they fall on the spectrum, making speech and social therapy and intervention one of the most crucial and utilized treatments.
On Autism Speaks website, they give a list of available treatments for speech, language, and motor skills. Since there is no known cure for the condition, the common symptoms that are associated with autism are treated.
Some of the therapies that are given to address these common symptoms are speech-language therapy, augmentative and alternative communication, occupational therapy, sensory integration therapy, and physical therapy.
One out of three people with the condition have trouble producing speech sounds to effectively communicate with others, causing the individuals language to be too hard to understand, and in some cases, the individual is unable to speak at all.
Along with speech challenges, many children with autism have a difficult time with conversational skills including eye contact, gestures, memorization, and have dependence on echolalia, which is where an individual with the condition often repeats words that are spoken to them. Speech and language therapy is one of the forms to combat these various symptoms of the condition.
One of the ways speech and language therapy is administered is through music therapy. In a recent study, music is significant for non-verbal children and children with speech and language delays because music has both sound and rhythmic elements that communicate to the human body.
Many nonverbal children with autism have also benefited from augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). This form of communication therapy includes all forms of communication other than oral speech through facial expressions, gestures, use of symbols, pictures, and writing. AAC is used for children with severe speech challenges in order to replace speech that is not present. AAC is also utilized while still in speech and language therapy.
The AAC Institute, “are a non-for-profit, charitable organization that is dedicated to the most effective communication for people who rely on augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). The two most important values expressed by people who rely on AAC are: 1. Saying exactly what they want to say 2. Saying it as fast as they can,” according to AAC Institute website. AAC Institute offer information and provide services throughout the world for children with autism who have speech and communication challenges.
Through occupational therapy, children with autism are able to better develop skills such as communication and interaction with other people in the classroom and at home. Occupational therapist observe an individual child to see if they are able to do task that are expected from their age level and create a specific program for a child with autism to follow that also parents and teachers can work on as well.
The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc has set out to advance the quality, availability, and support of occupational therapy through providing both services and education in order to improve healthcare. Through AOTA, parents, teachers, and practitioners have been able to provide the best care needed for children with autism.
Another therapy used in the treatment for communication and speech challenges for children with autism is sensory integration, which is the natural neurobiological process that refers to the integration and interpretation of sensory stimulation from the environment by the brain. This therapy focuses on three senses, tactile, vestibular, and proprioceptive and is practiced by occupational therapist.
In a recent study led by occupational therapists at Philadelphia’s Jefferson School of Health Professions found sensory integration therapy had improved the daily function in children with autism and ultimately can lead to a more independent life.
Many children with autism have trouble with functional movement and balance such as sitting, walking, running, and jumping. This often leads to challenges with moving through their environment effectively and can cause lifelong limitations. Due to these symptoms, psychical therapy is needed to improve poor muscle tone, balance, and coordination.
Through programs like Autism Fitness Therapy, children with autism are able to receive the help they need with motion, flexibility, motor, sensory, and coordination skills while also improving on their socialization, interaction, attention, behavior, and communication skills in a fun, nurturing, and safe environment.