Autistic children often face unique challenges throughout their development.
For instance, speech delays are a common experience amongst autistic children and often require autism speech therapy to correct.
Early intervention speech therapy for autism in children is an important factor for their future academic success and social involvement.
Therefore, being able to recognize the signs of autism in your child is an important tool every parent or caregiver should have in their arsenal.
We’re District Speech, a pediatric speech therapist and today we’d like to talk all about autism.
Keep reading to hear more about autism and speech therapy.
What Is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder, or ASD for short, is a developmental disorder caused by brain atypicalities.
It’s referred to as a “spectrum” because the way it affects each person can vary drastically.
For instance, some autistic children stutter whereas others are completely nonverbal.
Autistic children aren’t less intelligent than their neurotypical peers; rather, they have different ways of learning, moving, and paying attention.
Nonetheless, autism can present unique struggles for your child.
For instance, autism is commonly linked with communication difficulties as well as restricted and repetitive behaviors or interests.
These symptoms can lead to negative consequences, such as social isolation or emotional distress.
What Are The Signs Of Autism?
As previously mentioned, two of the most common signs of autism are communication difficulties and repetitive behaviors or interests.
While these signs are things that many people struggle with from time to time, autistic people experience them to a more significant extent.
Let’s look at the common signs of autism in closer detail.
Repetitive Behaviors And Interests
Repetitive behaviors are common among autistic children.
For instance, echolalia is a condition commonly diagnosed in autistic children that causes them to repeat words or phrases over and over.
If you have an autistic child, you might also notice that they have interests that seem unusual or obsessive.
For example, they might be more interested in part of a toy than the toy itself, such as the wheels on a toy car.
Autistic children are often resistant to changes in these behaviors and interests, even minor ones.
They may also use self soothing techniques to cope with such changes, such as rocking their body, flapping their hands, or spinning in a circle.
This behavior is known as “stimming.”
Stimming in itself is not a problem – in fact, it can help an autistic child deal with a troublesome situation.
But in some cases, it can get in the way of your child’s daily life.
Children with ADHD often stim as well.
Social Communication Skills
Many children have difficulty with their social communication skills.
This includes children who stutter, who have selective mutism, or who are shy.
However, these skills can be particularly challenging for autistic children.
If your child is autistic, you might notice the following social communication and interaction characteristics:
- Avoids eye contact
- Doesn’t respond to name by 9 months of age
- Doesn’t show facial expressions, such as happy and sad, by 9 months of age
- Doesn’t like to play interactive games, such as patty cake, by 12 months of age
- Uses little to no gestures, such as waving goodbye, by 12 months of age
- Doesn’t share interests with others by 15 months of age
- Doesn’t point to show you something interesting by 18 months of age
- Doesn’t notice when others are hurt or upset by 24 months of age
- Doesn’t notice when other children join them in play by 36 months of age
- Doesn’t play make believe, such as pretending to be a superhero, by 4 years of age
- Doesn’t sing, dance, or act for you by 5 years of age
Other Signs Of Autism
If you’re the parent of an autistic child, you might notice a variety of common characteristics in your child.
- Delayed language skills
- Delayed movement skills
- Delayed cognitive and learning skills
- Hyperactive, impulsive, and inattentive behavior
- Epilepsy or seizure disorder
- Unusual eating and sleeping habits
- Gastrointestinal issues, such as constipation
- Unusual mood or emotional reactions
- Anxiety, stress, or excessive worry
- Lack of fear or more fear than expected or appropriate
What To Do If You Suspect Your Child Is Autistic?
If you suspect that your child could be autistic, it’s wise to take them into a pediatrician for evaluation and specialist referral.
Autism evaluations typically include various steps.
These include observing your child, performing a physical exam, and administering various tests.
These tests are done by a wide range of specialists, including a speech pathologist.
A speech and language therapist can evaluate your child for speech and language delays.
Upon diagnosis, speech therapy can help your autistic child in a variety of ways, including:
- Learning to take turns in conversation
- Reading and writing (literacy) skills
- Learning to use a variety of communication supports, such as sign language or an AAC device if necessary
- And much more
Book Your Appointment With District Speech Today
Having a child with autism can present unique challenges, but we’re here to help.
At District Speech, we have a special interest in helping autistic children overcome their challenges and thrive in their social and academic worlds.
Book your appointment with District Speech today and find out how we can work for you and your child.
1300 I St NW, #400E,
Washington, DC 20005
District Speech and Language Therapy specializes in speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy solutions, for both children and adults, in the Washington D.C and the Arlington Virginia areas.