As a parent, you want what\u2019s best for your child. No doubt you\u2019ve researched everything from play activities, to diet, to daycares in an effort to give your child every possible advantage. So if you start to notice they aren\u2019t hitting developmental milestones at the same rate as their peers, it can be worrying and disheartening. You start to question every decision you\u2019ve made. Wondering what you could have - should have - done differently. But know there\u2019s help available. If your child is non-verbal, you may want to consider speech therapy for kids. We\u2019re District Speech, a speech therapy clinic serving Washing DC and Northern Virginia, and today we\u2019ll take a look at how speech therapy can help non-verbal children. Keep reading to learn more. What Is Nonverbal Autism? Nonverbal autism falls under the umbrella of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which identifies an assortment of neurodevelopmental disorders. Disorders on the autism spectrum are linked due to their impacts on individuals\u2019 ability to communicate, and their impacts on socialization, development, and behavior. Up to 40 percent of children with autism spectrum disorder are nonverbal. Let\u2019s look at how to recognize nonverbal autism, and some ways speech therapy can help improve communication. What Are The Symptoms Of Nonverbal Autism? The biggest factor which can help determine if a child has nonverbal autism or not is if they\u2019re able to speak clearly, and without interference. Many individuals with autism spectrum disorder have difficulty communicating or carrying on a conversation, however, those who are nonverbal won\u2019t speak at all. This could be because of not having developed verbal language skills, or disorders such as childhood apraxia of speech which is when the brain has difficulty sending signals needed to coordinate muscle movement. Aside from the inability to speak, symptoms of nonverbal autism can be divided into three categories: social, developmental, and behavior. Social symptoms involve having issues with social interaction, and include: \tAvoiding eye contact \tNot recognizing\/respecting personal space \tResisting physical contact Behavioral symptoms include: \tBeing upset at interruptions in routine \tObsessive interests and fixations \tShort attention span Developmentally, they will often be delayed compared to other children of their age. What Are The Early Signs Of Nonverbal Autism? According to the Centers for Disease Control most cases of nonverbal autism can be recognized by the age of two. Signs to watch for include: \tNot responding to their own name by the time they turn one year old \tUnusual reactions to sounds, smells, taste, touch \tNot showing interest in objects (such as pointing at an airplane overhead) by 14 months \tHand flapping, spinning in circles or rocking their body \tNot playing \u201cpretend\u201d by 18 months \tShowing obsessive interest in things \tAvoidance of eye contact \tUpset by small changes to routine \tDelayed speech and language skills \tTrouble understanding feelings \tPreferring to play independently from other children \tInappropriate facial expressions How Can Speech Therapy Help With Nonverbal Autism? Every child should have some way of communicating their needs with those around them. If you suspect your child has nonverbal autism, there are a variety of ways speech therapy can help them to develop communication skills. Let\u2019s have a look at some strategies which can help. 1. Determining If Speaking Is An Option Some children who are nonverbal may be able to develop the ability to speak with some practice. Having them attempt to imitate sounds or simple words can show whether or not further developing speech may be a viable option. If they are able to form basic sounds then further speech development is probably possible. 2. Finding And Employing An Alternate Communication Method If it\u2019s determined verbal communication isn\u2019t possible, there are other means children can use to communicate with those around them. These can include: \tBody language \tGestures \tPictures boards\/Picture exchange \tObject symbols \tSign language \tWritten messages \tVoice-output devices 3. Teaching Them To Follow Directions For directions which are given routinely day to day, creating picture cues can help them learn to follow directions. To do this, make a list of instructions or directions you are using regularly with your child, and create picture cues to go with them. You can use positive reinforcement, such as access to a favorite toy, to help teach your child these cues and reinforce learning. 4. Teaching Them To Imitate Others Children who don\u2019t have the developmental issues associated with autism, generally learn to imitate others at a young age. This imitation is important for social interactions, and although it often doesn\u2019t come naturally to children with ASD, this skill can be taught. Start with easy, whole body gestures and work up to complex actions and fine motor skills. 5. Teaching Other Skills Other skills which are important for children to develop include learning to request a favorite toy, or learning to take turns with others. Teaching them ways to communicate \u201cmy turn\u201d, and then as they get older \u201cin a minute\u201d and learning to take turns. Book An Appointment With District Speech Are you worried your child isn\u2019t developing at the same rate as their peers? Maybe they\u2019re not speaking at the same rate of other children at preschool. Or you seem to recall their older sister or brother was speaking in full sentences by now. District Speech can help. One of our professional speech therapists can perform an assessment of your child\u2019s development, and offer solutions to help with speech development. Contact us today to set up a consultation.