how speech therapy can help with autism

February 2, 2021 by andrew

Did you know that, on average, humans speak a minimum of 7,000 words per day? That’s 437.5 words per hour (not counting the 8 hours of recommended sleep daily).

Given the amount of time we spend speaking, it’s easy to take speech for granted. The words roll off our tongue. Our vocabularies are extensive. But for children on the autism spectrum, expressing themselves don’t come as easily.

That’s where speech therapy comes in.

What is autism?

trivia “Autism” refers to a wide range of developmental conditions characterized by repetitive patterns of thought and behavior, as well as difficulty in social interaction, speech, and nonverbal communication.
trivia In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association merged dour autism diagnoses into one umbrella diagnosis. Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD includes: autistic disorder; childhood disintegrative disorder; pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS); and Asperger syndrome.

According to WebMD, children on the autism spectrum may exhibit some or all of the following speech challenges:

  • Not talking at all
  • Talking in a singsong way
  • Uttering grunts, shrieks, or other harsh sounds
  • Babbling
  • Using foreign-sounding “words” or robotic speech
  • Parroting what another person says
  • Using unexpressive tones of voice when speaking

In addition to these, they could also have some or all of the following communication problems:

  • Making eye contact
  • Making proper gestures
  • Understanding the meaning of words outside of the context they were learned
  • Memorizing words without knowing what they mean
  • Relying on repeating another person’s words as a means to communicate
  • Struggling with creative language

What is speech therapy?

WhoAn individual patient on the autism spectrum


A licensed therapist trains the patient to have improved articulation and comprehension in verbal and nonverbal communication


Depends, but usually twice every week


How speech therapy can help with autism

Not being able to express themselves or speak how their peers do can lead to self-esteem issues and feelings of isolation and alienation.

Speech therapy gives kids a safe space to learn, practice, and make mistakes when it comes to expressing themselves. They’re encouraged to explore language and even find alternate means of communication if they wish.

Specifically, speech therapy helps kids with autism to:

1. Express their wants and needs

It’s always hard to raise a child, but it’s even harder to raise a child when they can’t tell you what they need.

And needing and wanting don’t end in childhood. As teenagers and adults, being able to express their consent, enthusiasm, reluctance, and hesitation is imperative in having healthy relationships.

2. Understand what others are saying

Comprehension of what other people are saying don’t always come naturally to children on the autism spectrum. Both verbal and nonverbal language sometimes need to be taught.

Understanding is essential in the communication process. If your child struggles to recognize and understand the meanings behind body language, facial expressions, and voice tone, speech therapy can help them.

3. Thrive in social settings

It’s not enough to be able to ask and answer questions. Conversations are spontaneous and unpredictable. In time, speech therapy can help kids with autism to keep up, if not thrive, in social situations.

Speech therapy can also help kids on the autism spectrum to:

  • Find common ground or similar interests with other people
  • Sustain conversations
  • Understand non-literal language, like idioms
  • Understand abstract concepts
  • Find the right words to use in a given context
  • Express sympathy and empathy
  • Recognize when they are being disrespectful or tactless

Finding the best time to start speech therapy

When it comes to speech therapy, the principle is the earlier, the better.

Language delays can be observed as early as 18 months and autism as early as 10 to 12 months. Parents can begin researching on their own and inquiring with professionals by then.

Research proves that early intervention leads to positive outcomes for people with autism.

Visit our service page to learn more about speech therapy. For inquiries, feel free to send us a message online.

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