Wednesday, May 1, 2013

"Say, say, say what you want..."

I am so excited to welcome Valerie Johnson from the Healthline.com network as a guest blogger! Healthline.com is a "comprehensive health information site that offers trusted medical information and rich, interactive visual tools to help you make better health decisions." Offering anything from fitness tips to a symptom search, Healthline.com is a comprehensive online community that leaves pertinent health information at the convenience of your keyboard. You can join the community on Facebook and Twitter.

I was particularly excited about this post because speech therapy is a vital part of PJ's array of therapies for Autism. Our voices and the ability to raise them play such a vital role in our connection to this world and it's a tool that we want PJ to develop as much as possible. Valerie discusses the benefits of speech therapy in children with Autism in her post, and we thank her for the contribution!

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The Benefits of Speech Therapy for Children with Autism


With diagnoses of autism on the rise, caretakers everywhere are looking for effective ways to address this condition. Autism is a disorder that affects brain function from birth, and it can result in abnormal communication patterns and habits. Those with autism tend to have more trouble than others interacting with others, meaning that communication can be very difficult for people with autism.

In order to combat this effect of autism, caretakers can bring children to work with speech therapists. These specialists can be extremely beneficial, working to decrease the effects of autism and improve the child’s social skills over time.

Complications with Autism

Individuals with autism have a variety of communication issues. Autism affects social interaction in a variety of ways, some of them related to speech itself and some related to skills in conversation.

When it comes to speech, autism tends to inhibit the formulation of words for normal conversation. Individuals with autism may talk in a variety of abnormal ways, including by using extra-lingual sounds or humming. Alternatively, those with autism may communicate by repeating statements that other people make, or they may not speak at all. Speech problems tend to affect approximately a third of people with autism.

Another level of difficulty arises in relation to communication skills. This is more common than technical speech issues, although it can make communication just as difficult. On a basic level, those with autism frequently lack the creativity that is required to carry on a conversation, including following conversation topics (rather than just memorizing what is said) and interpreting words in contexts other than those in which they were learned.

How Speech Therapy Helps

The term “speech therapy” actually encompasses a large field. Speech therapists work with patients in a variety of areas to improve communication skills—not just through speech. Speech therapists work in a variety of settings, including schools and private institutions, and they use a number of tools to help people develop their communication skills.

When it comes to autism, speech therapists are some of the most important specialists for making diagnoses and improving children’s skills for the future. In assisting children with autism, a speech therapist will use a number of techniques. First, they will focus on non-verbal communication. They might use picture cards or word boards, in addition to providing assistance with electronic speaking devices and computer communication tools.

Speech therapists can also provide assistance for picking up the basic skills of speech, including formulating words appropriately and learning the appropriate context for using words. For children that struggle with both the technical and contextual aspects of communication, speech therapists can provide great assistance in preparing them for communication in the real world.

Getting Started with a Therapist

As autism has become more understood and received more attention, the specialists that work to treat autism have become easier to find. Today, many speech therapists are covered by insurance, meaning that families can afford to work with these specialists.

To find a reputable speech therapist, caretakers can go through their children’s schools or medical facilities. In order to gain the most benefit from working from a speech therapist, you should take your child to work with a specialist as soon as possible. Typically, diagnosis is possible as early as 18 months, and most cases can be identified before three years. Because early-life development of speech is so important for lifelong communication, it is vital that children begin working with a speech therapist early on.

Research indicates that the children that receive the most support from therapists tend to have the strongest social skills, and the data indicates that two-thirds of children that work with speech therapists can develop fairly strong language skills and normal communication habits.


Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.

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