Autism is a spectrum disorder. This means that people who are affected by autism will display a varied range of drawbacks with their daily functions, but the characteristics are never really fixed. Every case of autism is unique. There are, however, some identifying markers, that are displayed in children with autism- impaired movement, problems with coordination, slow learning curve, difficulty in following social situations, interactions and slurred, slow speech. Apart from some distinct facial markers, it is very difficult to tell if a child has autism or not until they begin to exhibit these signs – one of the main difficulties that children with autism face are with their speech.
How exactly does autism affect your speech?
Well, when it comes to considering speech therapy for children with autism, we first need to understand how autism affects one’s speech. Our key mode of communication is language. When it comes to children with autism, it is difficult for them to learn a language because of a definite lack of cognitive abilities. Thus, as a result, since they are not able to pick up a language, it becomes difficult for them to imitate it and talk. Hence, their speech becomes somewhat compromised. Since their speech is compromised, they tend to slur, pronounce words differently than others would. They also understand that they are different and probably are not being able to communicate or connect the way that others are doing, as a result of which they shy away from further interaction and tend to speak less and less. This, in turn, affects their self-confidence, and they withdraw into social recluses. Therefore, from speech, it becomes an overall personality issue.
Now, what can be done to address this speech issue? So, one of the most scientific and effective ways to opt for is speech therapy. How does speech therapy work with autism? Is it all effective? Well, let’s take a look at some of the effects that speech therapy has had on children with autism:
- It has been observed that children with autism are often tensed when it comes to communicating, which leads to tension in their faces, which prevents their facial muscles from relaxing and flexing properly. This again results in impaired speech, which can be cured by speech therapy. Facial muscle relaxing exercises are conducted during speech therapy sessions. It is first important to check whether or not the child is gradually becoming okay with the touch, before which they will start relaxing, which will make communication easier.
- It has been seen that children with autism have a higher response rate to music as compared to speech. Since speech therapy for autism in reputed speech therapy centres incorporates this practice, it becomes easier for the children to pick up and learn something way faster than they usually when provided with simple verbal statements. Mixing it with rhythm and music always helps, and you need trained experts to execute this learning process perfectly.
- It requires a lot of patience since a child with autism will take a lot of time to open up and start communicating without the fear of being judged. A lot of children find it difficult to understand how they are different, but they realize that they are not able to communicate properly, which makes the process all the more tiring for them. Trained experts for speech therapy make sure that the children learn to communicate freely and without the fear of being judged.
- Building up self-confidence is a massive part of speech therapy. Those who suffer from speech defects are often seen to be hermits, which is detrimental for their emotional well being and mental health. Thus, when a child with autism goes to speech therapy sessions, more often than not, it has a direct effect on their confidence, and they start becoming more proactive and confident about themselves.
It is essential for us to communicate and for the children with autism to communicate with us properly so that we may understand their needs and provide them with the support that they require. Speech therapy has been seen to be one of the most effective tools when it comes to dealing with speech disorder resulting from autism in children, and hence, if you need, you can try it out, too!