Tag Archives: Autism


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.

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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.

Role of ENT (Otolaryngologist) in Autism

Though pediatrician /developmental specialist will often diagnose autism but few kids may visit E.N.T. specialist (otolaryngologist) and we (ENT) should act early to make sure that every autistic child can develop their full potential.

We know now that early intervention results in dramatic improvement in child. That’s why it is important for  ENTs also to know how to diagnose autism spectrum disorder for timely referral.


Image credit wikipedia under GFDL 

Pediatric ENT specialist often come in contact with child with speech delay  to rule out ear or hearing problems and if we are aware of autism red flags and able to identify those warning signs of ASD we can refer child timely.

One step ahead we can be more vigilant for red flags for early signs in as most kids from 3 month to 3 yrs visit ENT clinic for middle ear infection.  

  We should be immediately referring child –

  • -To developmental pediatrician/pediatric neurologist/child psychiatrist for early diagnosis
  • -To speech therapist for speech & language therapy,
  • Occupational therapist/Behavioural Therapist for sensory integration.

Autistic child can have lots of intellectual potential and they are not able to tell us and we can help them achieve their full potential by guiding them in right direction.

During 3 years journey of Audicco Gliriaa Speech Hearing center Vashi, Navi Mumbai and working closely with paediatric audiologist – speech therapist gives me more opportunity to learn more about autism and about struggles of parents of amazing autistic kids.

Also being in close association with paediatrician, developmental paediatrician and pediatric neurologist helps me to act timely.

Help spread the word about Autism. Take developmental milestone quiz-

You can read more at Few Autism Sites and Blogs

Autism Society blog






As per Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2013 May;77(5):629-34. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2013.02.006. Epub 2013 Mar 29. —“ASD patients have a higher incidence of profound sensorineural hearing loss, middle ear infections, and abnormalities of the cochlear nerve and brainstem auditory pathways.”

Articles from Medline, Embase, Current contents, Psychlit,  CINAHL and Healthstar were reviewed, you can read abstract -“The otological manifestations associated with autistic spectrum disorders. Chin RY1Moran TFenton JE.” at  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23541959

Red Flags Of Autism Spectrum Disorders


Image attributes flikr/helpingting (creative commons)

Different people with autism can have very different symptoms hence term “Autism Spectrum Disorder” (ASD).

Early signs of autism spectrum disorder are usually present before 18 months and parents usually know that there is something wrong with their kid. Family members and health care providers should value parent’s instinct and give importance to concern relating to child’s development.

Health care provider should know the fine line between typical and atypical development and should be able to recognize the Red Flags which indicates that a child should be evaluated and screened.

New born hearing screening and developmental screening should be done on slightest doubt.

Treatment should begin as early as possible by validated screening tools and should be tailored for every child to meet his needs.

Early intervention and educational approach may help in improving quality of life for autistic kid & family members.

Possible Red Flags for Autism

Social Interaction:

  • The child does not respond to his/her name.
  • The child doesn’t smile when smiled at.
  • The child has poor eye contact.
  • The child seems to be in his/her “own world.”
  • The child seems to tune people out.
  • The child is not interested in other children
  • The child seems to prefer to play alone
  • The child throws intense or violent tantrums.
  • The child is overly active, uncooperative, or resistant.
  • The child doesn’t know how to play with toys.
  • Child does not play ‘pretend’ games.
  • The child gets things for him/herself only.
  • The child is very independent for his/her age.
  • The child does things “early” compared to other children.
  • Have trouble understanding other’s feeling or talking about their own feeling


  • Not speak as well as other children his/her age?
  • The child cannot explain what he/she wants.
  • The child’s language skills are slow to develop or speech is delayed.
  • The child doesn’t follow simple directions.
  • At times, the child seems to be deaf
  • unusual voice quality

Repetitive Behaviors & Restricted Interests:

  • Repetitive movements with objects
  • Repetitive movements or posturing of body, arms, hands, or fingers
  • The child gets “stuck” doing the same things over and over and can’t move on to other things.
  • Repeat words or phrases said to them
  • Child spends a lot of time lining things up or putting things in a certain order. Have trouble adapting when routine changes.

Screening should also be done If the child…

  • Does not babble or gesture by 12 months of age
  • Does not say single words by 16 months of age
  • Does not say two-word phrases on his or her own (rather than just repeating what someone says to him or her) by 24 months of age
  • Has ANY loss of ANY language or social skill at any age.

Source- Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

On Autism Awareness Day aim should be to educate parents, health care providers, and child educators to identify and act early.

Autism and MMR Vaccine: The Lancet

The medical journal The Lancet has recently retracted a controversial 1998 paper by Andrew Wakefield that linked the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism. Read news at ( http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2010/02/03/mmr-autism-scare-research-is-withdrawn-115875-22014944/ )

Wakefield’s small study of 12 children, led to an MMR-autism scare in parents who in turn did not vaccinate their children despite the fact that further researches failed in showing any link between vaccine and autism.

Several studies by leading scientists in different countries including American Academy of Pediatrics, Columbia University, Massachusetts General Hospital and the Center for Disease control (CDC) has concluded that there is no associations between MMR vaccines and autism.

The General Medical Council, (Britain) said that “there was a biased selection of patients in The Lancet paper” and that his “conduct in this regard was dishonest and irresponsible.”  Read more details on BBC News

After the council’s findings The Lancet has withdrawn the study and released this statement–

“It has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield et al. are incorrect, contrary to the findings of an earlier investigation. In particular, the claims in the original paper that children were ‘consecutively referred’ and that investigations were ‘approved’ by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false. Therefore we fully retract this paper from the published record.”

Retraction of paper doesn’t mean the end to “Autism and Vaccine conflict” as family of autistic kids are still scared of vaccines, and researchers are still at the basic stages of figuring out genetic and environmental factors contributing to Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and novel medical and behavioral interventions.

What we need to do is focus our energy on more rigorous research, and early intervention.

Pediatricians and health care providers should value parent’s instinct and give   importance to their concern relating to their child’s development.

New born hearing screening is valuable tool and Child’s hearing and lead level should be checked on slightest doubt. Child should be refereed for developmental screening and further evaluation.

Treatment and educational approach should begin as early as possible and should be tailored for every child to meet his potential and needs in effective way.  Self help skills can be taught for greater independence to improve the quality of life.

What Parents Should Know About Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) Vaccine and Autism, find more autism facts on American Academy of Pediatrics.

(*** Image attributed to http://www.flickr.com/photos/yourdon/2174921778/)

World Autism Awareness Day…Diagnose early…

April is Autism Awareness Month, and Friday 2nd April is world autism awareness day… an opportunity to raise public awareness about autism and also to celebrate the unique skills and talents of people with autism.

Training in the use of diagnostic tools and experience of people with autism is essential to meet growing need to diagnose autism.  It is very important for medical professionals to understand emotional strain on families and they should guide them towards appropriate services.

Autism is a complex developmental disability which affects a person’s ability of social interaction and communication. Autism is a spectrum disorder which affects each individual in different ways and to varying degrees.

It is usually first noticed when a child reaches the age of three and is basically identified by three areas of difficulty for the autistic person: Social relationships and communications, imagination and planning, and repetitive behaviors. The autistic person may appear aloof and indifferent to those around him.

For some reason some of the cells of brain -especially those that affect communication, emotions and senses-don’t develop properly or get damaged.

Factors contributing are-
1. Genetic component
2. Environmental factors like viruses


There is no known cure for Autism but there are treatment & educational approaches that may help in improving quality of life for autistic kid & family members.
Intervention may help to reduce disruptive behavior and self-help skills can be taught for greater independence.

Treatment options are following–

  • Learning & behavioral
  • Diet, vitamins, minerals
  • Medications
  • Complimentary therapies like music, art and animal therapy
  • Occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy

Treatment should begin as early as possible and should be tailored for every child to meet his potential and needs. It should be a multidisciplinary team approach (requires co-operation between health care provider and educational institutes).

Let us join together in our efforts to raise awareness about autism…