How Cleveland Speech Therapists Contribute to Child Autism Treatment
A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics revealed autism rates in the U.S. have tripled in the last two decades. There is some debate about whether this means the condition is becoming more common or whether we’re just better at identifying it (probably a little of both). That said, what’s not in question is the fact that Cleveland speech therapists are a critical part of the early intervention and long-term treatment team working to help children with autism reach important developmental milestones to gain maximum independence and achieve success at home, school, work, and in relationships.
It’s true that autism has a very broad range and wide severity levels. Kids on the spectrum might (or might not) have intellectual disabilities, delayed motor development, and poor sensory integration – and those things can look different for each child. But some of the symptoms inherent to an autism diagnosis are areas that fall directly under the purview of our Cleveland speech therapists. These include:
- Impairment of social interaction.
- Impairment of communication.
- Restricted or repetitive patterns of behavior.
At Therapy & Wellness Connection, we have found that treatment of autism works best when it’s formulated as a multi-disciplinary approach. That’s one incorporating cooperation among professionals of multiple disciplines – speech therapists, occupational therapists, behavior therapists, doctors, teachers, and parents. That’s why we offer so many services under one roof. Kids with autism are typically prescribed numerous, intensive therapies – the earlier start the better. Housing all these specialties in the same location gives our Cleveland speech therapists, OTs, BCBAs, RBTs, and special education teachers/intervention specialists the opportunity to maintain open communication about goals, treatment plans, and unique approaches. Consistency across multiple disciplines leads to greater carryover of skills across environments which means kids reach their goals faster.
As with any therapy, progression occurs over time with consistency, professional skill, parent involvement, and patience.
Benefits of Speech Therapy for Kids on the Autism Spectrum
Treatment plans are tailored to each individual child, taking into consideration the entirety of their diagnosis, any comorbidities, current skills/abilities, and personal interests. Some areas of focus for our speech therapy team when we’re treating children with autism include:
- Improving non-verbal communication. This includes using and understanding things like gestures, eye contact, facial expressions, and body language to communicate.
- Expressive & receptive language skills. We want kids to be able to express themselves and also understand when someone else is trying to communicate with them. We’ll focus on building up the child’s vocabulary, grammar, and speech patterns. We’ll also practice talking in turns and using words – rather than ineffective behaviors – to get needs met.
- Pragmatic language skills. These are skills that when and where we communicate in certain settings. Conversational turn-taking, organizing words, knowing when communication is expected and when it is not.
- Interpreting tone of voice. Understanding the emotion behind someone’s words by assessing volume and tone isn’t easy for kids with autism, but it’s an important element of social communication. We can help teach this.
What to Expect With Our Cleveland Speech Therapists
When your child is diagnosed with autism and referred by a doctor for speech therapy, you may be unsure what to expect. Here’s the basic process:
- Assessment. Speech therapists will first assess the child’s communication skills, which may include analyzing their speech patterns, vocabulary, grammar, and social communication skills.
- Developing a treatment plan. Based on the assessment, speech therapists will develop an individualized treatment plan that targets the specific communication needs of the child.
- Communication interventions. Speech therapists may use various communication interventions such as picture exchange communication system (PECS), social stories, and visual supports to help children with autism communicate more effectively.
- Play-based therapy. Speech therapists may use play-based therapy to help children with autism develop their communication and social skills. This may involve using toys, games, and activities to encourage communication and interaction. We provide therapy both in-clinic and at-home.
- Parent involvement. Speech therapists may involve parents in the therapy process to help them support their child’s communication development at home.
- Collaborating with other professionals. Speech therapists may work with other professionals such as occupational therapists, physical therapists, and psychologists to provide a holistic approach to the child’s treatment.
Speech therapy is recognized as an effective treatment for children with autism, helping them develop important communication skills and improving their overall quality of life in both the short and long-term.
Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides speech therapy to children with autism in Cleveland, Akron, Brecksville-Broadview Heights and surrounding communities. We also offer occupational therapy, ABA therapy, summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.
Autism diagnosis rates tripled in less than two decades. What does that mean for schools? Feb. 2, 2023, By Alia Wong, USA Today
More Blog Entries:
What Makes Akron ABA Therapy Effective for Kids With Autism? Jan. 19, 2023, Cleveland Speech Therapy Blog