Autism and Speech Therapy

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that presents with delayed or disordered social communication skills and social interaction skills. A diagnosis of Autism is often regarded with negative emotions and diminished outlooks for the future. However, there are now many treatment options and modalities that improves the lives of children and families affected by this diagnosis. Early identification and intervention have shown to improve a child’s ability to function in every day social interactions and communication exchanges.


Let’s review the early signs and red flags of ASD to watch for. These can be observed as young as 18 months; however, the highest incidence of red flags observed typically occur between 24 months and 6 years.

Social Communication – Child exhibits limited joint attention/play with others, exhibits limited eye-contact and social reciprocity, does not initiate/respond to interaction attempts, and/or demonstrates difficulty with conversational turn-taking.

Social Cognition – Child doesn’t understand feelings and/or empathize with others

Language and Cognition Skills

  1. Child has impaired speech and language skill development including limited vocabulary or losing words previously acquired. Child may also exhibit “echolalia” which is repetition of words/sounds he or she just heard or heard weeks ago. Child may also exhibit this by repeating movie scripts or book scripts out of context.
  2. Child may also have impaired understanding of non-verbal and verbal communication which may be apparent in their facial expressions, body language, and gestures. They may have executive function difficulty such as poor problem solving and poor planning or organizationl skills.
  3. Child exhibiting limited communication intent – does not attempt to communicate his/her wants or needs

Behavioral and Emotional Regulation – child may exhibit difficulty transitioning from one activity to another, may have tantrums when they are not understood, may have restricted areas of interest, and may have restricted and repetitive behaviors/patterns such as lining up toys or animals or stacking blocks continuously. Child may also utilize self-stimulating behaviors in order to calm down or wind up such as hand flapping, rocking, spinning, or covering their eyes/ears with their hands when they feel overwhelmed.

Sensory and Feeding – Child may have preferences for patterns of foods or rejections of patterns of foods based upon texture. For example, they may never eat “soft” foods and prefer to only eat “crunchy” foods, or they won’t touch mashed potatoes but will eat potato chips at every meal. They may be over-sensitive or under-sensitive to environmental sounds, light, visual clutter, and social stimuli such as social touch, proximity to others, and voices.

Speech therapy can help to improve these areas in children with ASD as the scope of practice for speech therapy addresses all five of these deficits. There is also a wide variety of therapy options and treatment modalities within speech therapy for children with Autism. Therapy is specific to each individual, as Autism is a spectrum and no two children are the same, and considers what is functional for the families and their involvement abilities. Ask about speech therapy for children with Autism at your North Hills-ENT location today!

Source – (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (n.d.). Autism (Practice Portal). Retrieved October, 15, 2015, from


North Hills ENT and Anderson Audiology have several convenient locations for Speech Therapy!

North Hills ENT – 817-595-3700
4351 Booth Calloway Road, Ste. 308
North Richland Hills, TX  76180

North Hills ENT– 817-595-3700
647 S. Great Southwest Pkwy., Ste. 103
Grand Prairie, TX  75051

Anderson Audiology – 817-282-8402
1550 Norwood Drive, Suite 100
Hurst, TX  76054

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