Autism

AutismAutism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is an umbrella term to describe “a disorder of neural development” and has three different classifications: autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and low functioning autism. ASD is characterized by notably reduced communication, delay in speech development, and repetitive activities. Asperger’s Syndrome is a high functioning form of ASD and is characterized by reduced communication and repetitive activities, but generally without delayed speech or diminished intelligence.  Children who suffer from low functioning autism may find it hard to communicate or speak.  This form of autism is generally diagnosed when a child’s form of ASD does not fit the criteria of Asperger’s or autism.

In some cases, a child with certain behaviors consistent with ASD but who does not fit the full diagnostic criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th Edition (DSM-V) for ASD, the term Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) may be used.

Recent studies have indicated a strong genetic basis of ASD, with “rare mutations” or “rare combinations of genetic variants” being potential factors in how the disease is transferred to the child.

Symptoms and Characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Difficult social interactions and behavioral symptoms such as repetition, and delayed communication and language skills are key characteristics of ASD.  ASD may become apparent in children at about 6 months of age, though they may be functioning normally and then regress at 1 to 2 years old. 

Social development is typically stunted in children with ASD due to lack of intuition, the inability to understand body language or cope with stress and lack of understanding of social norms. Repetitive behavior like hand flapping, severe resistance to change, and restrictive behavioral patterns also occur.  It is estimated that 60-80% of Autistic children have motor problems. 

Aspects of communication that are affected differ in severity with each classification of the disease.  Asperger’s children are better at adapting and learning normal speech patterns. By contract, children with low functioning autism can find language difficult to learn and may display little to no communication skills. Interpreting language (pragmatics) and physical aspects of language (eye contact, gesturing) are often difficult for children to comprehend and take many years of therapy to teach.

 

Treatment of Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder is not curable, but there are ways to lessen the severity of symptoms.  Physical therapy can treat the motor functioning disabilities that are sometimes caused by ASD.  Occupational and psychological therapy can help children cope with stress and interact in social situations. 

Early introduction to speech therapy can greatly help develop the speech and language skills of children with ASD. If the child has higher level speech capabilities, speech therapy focuses on rate of speech, eye contact, and take a pragmatic approach to understanding tone, hyperbole, and nuance in language. For instance, a child may not understand that when you exaggerate and say “you tried a thousand times” you didn’t literally try a thousand times. 

If the child is low functioning and cannot produce words or sentences, s speech therapist can work with her by teaching other forms of communication. Speech therapists can use picture games, teach gestures or sign language, or work with an electronic communication device to create communication skills. Depending on the severity of the symptoms caused by ASD, therapy can be a lengthy process—so it is best to start early when the child is diagnosed.

Speech Buddies can help children with Autism who have trouble with sound production.

 

Other Speech Disorders

Articulation Disorder, Apraxia of Speech, Cerebral Palsy, Cleft Palate, Down syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, Language Disorder, Speech Delay, Stuttering

 

References:

http://www.speechbuddy.com/blog/speech-therapy-techniques/speech-therapy-for-autistic-children/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autism

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Speech Buddies Connect and Speech Buddies Games allow users to communicate with other users on the platform. We define users as “speech-language pathologists,” or “speech therapists,” and “parents.” The intention of Speech Buddies Connect is to allow parents looking for speech therapy services for their children to contact and communicate with licensed Speech-Language Pathologists who provide speech services. Speech Buddies Games allows students to practice online exercises that can help improve their speech and articulation. Speech Buddies Games can be used by Students, Parents, and Speech-Language Pathologists.

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