How effective is speech therapy for children with autism spectrum disorder

How effective is speech therapy for children with autism spectrum disorder?

For me to answer the question how effective speech therapy for children with autism spectrum disorder is, we need to take a closer look at speech delays in autism… 

Autistic speech delays usually occur alongside other communication difficulties.  They can include pointing difficulties at a young age, or they could mean using gestures opposed to words.  For some it will mean that they do not respond to their names and to other children on the spectrum it will mean a lack of interest in people or connecting with people.

Truth is – some autistic children don’t speak any words and other autistic children are verbal.  The level of their verbal ability can also differ substantially.  Speech problems can literally be an autistic child struggling to produce speech sounds, it can be the persistent repeating of words or phrases and it can also be a child using learned scripts that they saw or heard on television.  Speech is complicated!

The severity and detail of each individual child’s speech delay is ultimately going to be the determining factor as to the efficacy of speech therapy.  The efficacy of speech therapy for children with autism spectrum disorder will also be measured by the expectation a parent has on the therapist and/or the child.

Let me explain the best I can …

If the question was: “can a speech therapist, make a nonverbal child speak?”- my answer must be no but if the question is: “can a speech therapist help my nonverbal child communicate or speak clearer or better?” – then my answer must be yes.

Intensive speech therapy can honestly change a child’s development path and improve the outcome for the child but the true magic for the child lies in more than speech therapy.

True speech and communication development lies in a combination approach where autism specialists, autism educators and autism therapists work out an individualized educational program for your child, tailored specifically to her/his unique challenges.  An autistic child speech delay it’s not going to be fixed without dedication to the holistic development of the child.

Ilse Kilian-Ross

Ilse Kilian-Ross is the owner of Amazing K, a registered ECD and Partial Care Facility in Johannesburg. Amazing K is a private adhd school, autism school and therapy centre for children from age 2 - 6 years where learners receive the best of both the schooling and therapy world. The autism school offers Individualized Education Programs, Speech- and Augmentive Alternative Communication (AAC) therapy as well as a full and adapted Academic Curriculum.