ASD or Autism Syndrome Disorder is an umbrella term that encompasses a range of syndromes such as autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome as well as a pervasive neurodevelopmental disorder.
Autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders are more common in boys than in girls. The autism spectrum is characterized by impaired social interaction and communication skills, repetitive or restricted behaviour, and problems of speech. In fact, speech and language development issues are the commonest identifiers of autism and similar diseases.
Language, Speech and Communication Issues
While not all types of autism disorders exhibit these problems, they are prevalent in most people diagnosed with ASD. Even so, the extent of the problems is not homogenous and differs from person to person.
Speech and language, or in other words, the ability to communicate can be broken down into a few stages –
- Firstly, the individual has to feel an urge or need to communicate
- The need could arise if the individual wants to convey some thought or feeling or if he/she has to respond to a situation or to another person
- Next, the brain produces a detailed and clear picture of the message
- The message is then transformed more solidly into words
- And in the last stage, through meaningful and structured language the words are articulated
During the entire process, quite a few faculties of the brain are involved, paying attention to the external stimuli, interpreting the sounds, images, smells or taste or the meaning of words uttered by others, figuring out the correct response, and modulating the emotional response on which will depend on the tone, pitch and volume of the person’s speech.
People with autism or ASD, usually face challenges in one or more of the steps explained above. For example – they may not be able to grasp or interpret societal structure or interpret norms of established communication, which makes them both unable and unwilling to interact with others – or maybe because they are unable to create a complete message in their brains, which means they are unable to respond accurately through speech. It could also be that they find it difficult to decode the messages that their sense organs are picking up or they are unable to learn a language. Some have problems with coordinating the movements of the tongue or lips or controlling their breathing.
Treatment of Speech and Language Problems in Autism
Since autism shows its signs and symptoms very early on in life, it is best that children are taken to therapy as soon as possible. A specialist or psychologist will meticulously asses the child. Treatment starts with pinpointing the issue and in which developmental stage it has manifested itself.
Usually, speech and language therapy is recommended for them.
- Help them learn a language through means that they can grasp
- Making the muscles of the mouth, lips, jaw and neck stronger to help articulate words
- Comprehending emotions from facial expressions and body language
- Controlling pitch and volume
- Learning to enunciate words precisely and clearly
- Communication through drawing
- Answering questions fielded at them
Therapy is rewarding but at times can be challenging for both the child and his/her parents. That is why there will be family sessions, where parents will be made aware of their child’s unique needs. Unconditional support and love will be required to integrate children with ASD completely into the society.In case you have a concern or query you can always consult a specialist & get answers to your questions!