Post written By Ms Ranjitha R. (Audiologist & Speech Therapist)
Again it is April, and also the ‘Autism Awareness Month‘. Apart from the pomp and show of the autism awareness day, as a Speech Therapist, I want people to know that the Children with autism are really amazing kids who go through so much of hardships every day.
Image Flickr by Heather Katsoulis, Attribution-ShareAlike License
I want them to know that children with autism don’t want you to pity them but to understand just how love and respect are important to make at least a little change in their life.
What I have experienced as a speech pathologist is that Autism is not a disorder of poor IQ or poor thinking capability. Even a child who look severe autistic to the others may have their senses overflowing and their body is nor cooperating, but they have a mind more competent than we have understood previously.
In my experience of dealing with autism, I have come across so many parents who want their autistic children to excel in academics as their school demands it. Many autistic kids are given academic tasks which are more challenging and uninteresting.
Studies have shown that uninteresting tasks can interfere with learning tasks. I wonder when parents would understand ‘communication’ has to be given priority than ‘academics’.
Image at Flickr by Lance Neilson Attribution License
In fact I am here to write something about how speech therapy would help autistic kids. Hence let me begin…
Children on ASD have difficulty in communication rather than speech and language problems. It’s difficult for them to use language in a social context and also to understand or read others mind. Hence they fail to make eye contact and to use gestures and understand body language.
A delay in language development especially expression may the first sign that the parents think the child has a problem and the speech pathologist is one of the first few professionals who would be seeing the child. So it is important from the part of a speech pathologist to take in to account all aspects of communication and social functioning, not just speech and language.
While dealing with non verbal kids the therapists may use visual methods such as picture system, signing, symbols etc. They can also help the child in improving attention, eye contact, play skills, social use of language as well as comprehension and expression.
At the opposite side we have verbal autism, where they have good vocabularies and can talk on topics in great depth and all. In this case also there will be some children who have problem with pronunciation, some with language difficulty, and many also have problems with word and sentence meaning, intonation, and rhythm or content in speaking.
For children with autism, speech therapists can provide help with:
•Articulation disorders: some children have trouble saying some sounds or words correctly.
• Fluency disorders: some children repeat some sounds or have trouble saying complete words. Stammering is a common problem seen.
• Resonance or voice disorders: some children talk in a way which makes it difficult for people to understand them as if they talk through their nose.
• Language disorders: some children find it very difficult to understand what people are saying to them as they don’t understand the meaning of words.
Children on the autism spectrum may have a difficulty in literal understanding of language or use their own idiosyncratic language. The correct use of pronouns is also often a problem.
New mobile devices can help educators and therapists engage children on the autism spectrum, using the power of edutainment. With recent advances in mobile technology, ipad, iphone,tablet which all fits on the palm — students on the autism spectrum are edutaining themselves and learning.
Image credit wikipedia.org
Studies show that this allows kids not only for motivation but also helps in concentration and learning.
Whatever the Speech therapy plan or treatment , keep in mind that Autistic kid need our help to communicate or talk to the world like all of us do and let us get the most out of them by working hand in hand as a team.