Government data shows roughly 1 in 12 U.S. children between the ages of 3 and 17 have a disorder related to speech, language, swallowing or voice. Some child speech delays and language problems are associated with congenital conditions like Down Syndrome, but they’re often discovered around age 2 when a parent notices their child isn’t keeping up with other children their age.
Child speech delays and language disorders have a number of possible causes, and it’s important for parents and caregivers to understand what these might be – as well as why a thorough, professional evaluation may be necessary for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.
It’s also imperative to understand that some of these conditions won’t simply resolve on their own, and that the sooner we can start Cleveland speech therapy, the better the long-term prognoses. This is important because the inability to communicate – to speak and understand what’s being spoken – can have serious, long-term impact to a child’s ability to connect with parents and peers, excel in school and navigate their greater community.
It’s been more than 30 years since the so-called “1987 Study” by psychologists determined the optimal “dose” for behavior therapy for children with autism was 40 hours a week. Applied behavioral analysis (ABA) on that kind of intensive schedule had big results – typical functioning for children between the ages of 9 to 19, compared to the little impact seen for those who received just 10 hours of ABA therapy weekly.
We recognize that many parents of children newly-diagnosed with autism respond to that figure with some shock. It’s a lot to take in. After all, 40 hours is a full-time job – and our ABA therapists are recommending it to toddlers.
But even though smaller, controlled trials in the years since never exactly replicated the dose results of the 1987 Study, most were close. And now, the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, which had previously recommended 30-40 hours weekly per child, formalized that recommendation last month.
The latest class offered at Therapy & Wellness Connection is a functional fitness class by a certified occupational therapist. So many wonderful benefits to this great course – sign up today!
Early intervention has proven key to long-term success for infants and toddlers with disabilities. Decades of rigorous study have shown that the earlier speech, occupational, physical and ABA therapists intervene, the greater the odds of significant reductions in delays and functional impediments. Early intervention Akron autism treatment that begins before age 6 is the most effective in rerouting those neurological pathways.
But should we treat children before they’ve even been diagnosed?
There is growing research to support the practice, and as speech, occupational and ABA therapists, we know it’s really never too early to start.
Many adults are charmed by a young child’s lisp, finding it adorable when they mispronounce their s’s and z’s. If you ask an Akron speech therapist, most kids do outgrow these miscommunications. However, there may come a time when a child’s lisp requires speech therapy intervention.
Most kids won’t develop a prominent lisp, but it’s not uncommon. The younger the child, the tougher it is to figure out if they actually have a lisp or if it’s just “baby-talk.” As the child gets older, though, that lisp can become a hindrance socially and even academically and professionally.
Although there are stages for development of every sound, by roughly age 4 or 5, most children’s speech is understood. By age 8, most children can say all of their sounds correctly.
Most speech therapists recommend beginning treatment somewhere in this window. Our speech-language pathologists at Therapy & Wellness Connection generally agree that earlier is better because the longer it goes on, the tougher it can be to “unlearn.” In no case will speech therapy ever be harmful, but acting sooner could mean your child has a chance to tackle the issue before his or her peers ever really notice.
At the very least, parents with concerns should make an appointment for an Akron speech consultation to determine whether swift action is advisable.
When a child is referred for Cleveland OT (occupational therapy) services, parents are sometimes a bit bewildered.
“Why would a child need to learn an occupation?”
With other types of pediatric therapy, the name sort of says it all, right?
- Speech-language therapy – Teaching children how to communicate, understand language, articulate, etc.
- Physical therapy – Helping children overcome some type of physical condition, whether orthopedic, neurological, developmental, congenital or musculoskeletal.
- Behavior therapy (ABA) – Assisting kids with conditions like autism spectrum disorder and Down syndrome to learn how to navigate socially significant behaviors.
Occupational therapy is a bit trickier to explain because it’s such a broad discipline. Cleveland OT services at Therapy & Wellness Connection helps children with various needs improve their physical, sensory, cognitive and motor skills, all while boosting their self esteem and pride in accomplishments.
As a long-time Brecksville speech therapist (and mother) I know well the fact that children develop at different paces and in different ways. This is especially true when it comes to speech and language.
Because let’s be honest: Learning a new language is hard!
Although human children are hard-wired to master their native tongue, slight delays are fairly common, and often will resolve themselves over time.
However, if you have concerns about your children’s speech and language progress, don’t let anyone – pediatrician, family member or even a spouse – stop you from trusting your gut and least getting an opinion from speech therapy professionals.
At Therapy & Wellness Connection, we recognize families are already pinched for time as it is and concerns about a child’s speech delay can be stressful. We’re not here to pile on services your child doesn’t need. What we do want is to give every youth the best possible opportunity to succeed long-term. If there is evidence of a noteworthy delay or challenge, we don’t want the skills’ deficit to snowball (and left untreated, it can). That’s why we recommend early intervention.
If you are concerned your child might be on the autism spectrum, you are right to seek answers as soon as possible. That’s because while there is no cure for autism, the most effective treatment with the best long-term outcomes – academically, socially-emotionally and in terms of independence – is a combination of early intervention services that includes ABA therapy. Yet few if any health insurers will cover these services (ABA therapy in particular) if a child does not have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.
One of the first steps in the diagnostic process is an ADOS test.
Therapy and Wellness Connection offer ADOS testing at our ABA therapy clinic in Brecksville or in your home in a surrounding communities like Broadview Heights, Akron and Cleveland. We can also help you obtain pre-approval for insurance coverage of the test itself.
What is the ADOS Test?
“ADOS” stands for Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule. It’s a semi-structured, standardized test measuring the degree to which a child is considered at-risk for autism spectrum disorder.
Unlike a child with cerebral palsy or Down syndrome, there is no genetic test, no blood marker or brain scan that can tell us definitively whether a child has autism. Complicating matters is the fact that the autism spectrum itself is so vast, there can be fair dispute between professionals over whether a child meets the qualifications.
The current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders sets the criteria for pediatric neurologists, psychologists and psychiatrists to make an autism spectrum diagnosis, which affects 1 in 59 children and 1 in 38 boys.
Autism is a neuro-developmental condition characterized by:
- Trouble communicating and interacting with others.
- Interests that are restrictive and behaviors that are competitive.
- These and other symptoms that inhibit a person’s ability to function in school, work or other areas of life.
Autism isn’t even the only condition with some of these symptoms. For example, a young child with delayed speech who seems fairly uninterested in social interaction and appears to flit from one task to the next could have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Or, the child could have both conditions (something clinicians refer to as “co-morbidity”).
The ADOS test is can help clinicians narrow it down, and it’s one of the best measures we have to do so.
The ADOS test analyzes:
- Social interaction
- Cognitive function
- Play/imaginative use of materials
- Other behaviors relevant to autism spectrum disorder.
People of all ages and developmental levels – adult to toddler, verbally fluent to lacking any speech at all – can be effectively assessed with the ADOS test. There is a play-based version for very young children, and there is a more advanced ADOS analysis for older teens and adults.
Does Scoring High on the ADOS Test Mean My Child Has Autism?
Not necessarily, but it’s a good indicator of a strong possibility. The final determination will be made by an expert physician, such as one who specializes in pediatric neurology, behavior or psychiatry. Having those test results in hand will help the doctor make the best choice. You’ll want to make sure you express your concerns and observations with that specialist as well.
You do not need a doctor’s referral for your child to undergo the ADOS test. Clinicians at our ABA therapy clinic, which also provides speech, occupational and physical therapy, can conduct a free initial screening as well as the in-depth ADOS analysis without a doctor’s recommendation. Access to those early intervention services, however, will likely require a physician referral (if you want insurance to pay for it).
Call our offices if you have any questions at all. We know this is an overwhelming time for a lot of families, and we’re happy to help walk you through the process.
Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – is a pediatric therapy center providing ABA therapy to children Northeast Ohio. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email. Serving Brecksville, Akron, Cleveland and surrounding communities in Northeast Ohio.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), National Institute for Mental Health
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Brecksville ABA Tips on Traveling With a Child Who Has Autism, May 7, 2019, Akron ABA Therapy Provider
Families across Northeast Ohio are gearing up for their summer travel plans. Although vacation is supposed to be a time of relaxation, new experiences and fun, the prospect of it can be overwhelming for families of children with autism. As Brecksville ABA providers, we understand the task can seem daunting.
Autism is often defined by rigidity in routine, while great travel experiences are so often about flexibility. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible. As awareness and accessibility has grown, many businesses and entire communities are offering more inclusive opportunities than ever before. Don’t presume your child won’t enjoy it just because he or she can’t say so!
In our role as ABA (applied behavioral analysis) therapists for children in Northeast Ohio, the most valuable advice is to prepare as much as you can, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself your child if it doesn’t. Expect that things can and will go wrong, but the goal is to enjoy as much of the time as you can.
The crowds, camaraderie, cranked up stereos and unpredictable seatmates: It’s a major part of why so many love sporting events. Conversely, it’s also the HE reason some will never set foot in these facilities – even if they love the game. For many children and adults diagnosed with sensory processing disorder (SPD) and related conditions, the reality is it’s simply too much sensory overload.
Sports teams have begun deciding to offer these fans a sensory break. Our Cleveland occupational therapists especially applauded the very first of those in the = NBA, the Cleveland Cavalier at Quicken Loans Arena, in 2017.
Our Cleveland occupational therapists realize the number of teams investing in certified sensory rooms will mean more people with SPD to enjoy the same experiences as the rest of us.