Guide: Speech Therapy & Autism: How Much Will It Help?

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A recent article published in the Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research details the potential benefits of speech remediation for those with autism.

Speech therapy is a type of treatment for people with autism. It’s typically used to help improve communication and social skills, as well as increase independence. Speech therapy exercises are available in the form of a pdf document.


Speech therapy may help persons with autism improve their communication abilities, particularly when combined with other therapies like ABA therapy. This treatment may assist children with a variety of challenges, such as forming sentences and comprehending the meaning of another person’s words.

The Impact of Autism on Speech

Autism, often known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a developmental illness that affects how a person interacts, communicates, and socializes. These symptoms manifest in a variety of ways, and they often impact speech.

Some youngsters with autism who are only beginning to exhibit indications of the disorder may not have any difficulty learning to talk. Other youngsters may be able to hear speech but will not be able to communicate for many years of their childhood. Others may have trouble speaking and comprehending speech all of the time.

If someone has autism, they may have difficulty with speech and language abilities as a youngster. They could:

  • Echolalia is a condition in which people repeat words or phrases over and over again.

  • Say “you” instead of “I” when using reverse pronouns.

  • Waving or pointing motions do not elicit a response.

  • Use a monotone tone of voice.

  • Use a sing-song tone of voice.

  • Answer questions with irrelevant responses.

Behavioral treatment tackles a number of the distinctions that exist between persons with autism and those who are neurotypical. One kind of behavioral treatment is speech therapy.

How Speech Therapy Can Help With Autism-Related Communication Issues

Many possible communication challenges are addressed in speech therapy for persons with autism. Learning to pick up on social signals, learning to communicate, and increasing vocabulary and sentence structure are just a few examples.

Working with a speech therapist at any time in one’s autism journey may be useful. However, the sooner this therapy starts in infancy, the better the individual’s prospects will be.

Individual speech therapy, as well as associated treatments in school, at work, and in the community, assist children and adolescents with autism.

Speech therapy may help autistic people with speech issues that are frequent among them.

  • Repetitive or inflexible language: Autistic children and teenagers who are talkative may say things that are irrelevant or meaningless to their talks with others. For example, a youngster may repeatedly mention colors he or she knows in a discourse that has nothing to do with colors.

  • Echolalia is a condition in which children with autism repeat words or phrases they hear, such as catchphrases or jingles heard in movies or on television.

  • When starting a discussion, older children, teenagers, and adults may employ stock phrases. For example, they may constantly begin a conversation by saying, “My name is John,” even though they already know the person with whom they are conversing.

  • Children with limited interests and outstanding ability may be interested in just one or two subjects. They may provide long monologues on a subject that piques their curiosity. This makes it difficult to maintain a two-way discussion since there is little room for the other person to intervene or respond.

  • Other autistic youngsters may have limited language skills but outstanding musical or mathematical ability. Around 10% of persons with autism have “savant” talents, or extraordinarily high abilities in certain areas that they are passionate about.

  • Poor communication skills: Gestures may not match words, or the individual may not comprehend a gesture such as waving or pointing in relation to another person’s speech. They may also avoid or be uncomfortable with eye contact, making them seem impolite, inattentive, or indifferent.

  • Children with autism may get agitated while attempting to communicate their emotions, ideas, or needs to others because they do not correlate body language and spoken language in the same manner. This might lead to outbursts or other improper actions as a result of frustration.

  • Language development is uneven: Young children’s natural language talents do not develop at the same pace as their neurotypical classmates. A kid with autism, for example, may learn to read at an early age but be unable to articulate the words on the page, although understanding them.

  • They may build a solid vocabulary in their chosen areas of interest. They often have a high memory capacity for new material that they have just learnt, allowing them to talk extensively about it.

  • They may not react to their own names or to speech aimed at them, including speech from their parents, despite these strengths. At first, this may seem to be a hearing impairment in very young children.

Working with speech therapists as early as possible benefits young children with speech and language development issues.

For people who are not diagnosed with autism until maturity, speech therapy and other types of treatment to address communication impairments may still be beneficial later in life.

Speech Therapy to Develop Both Verbal & Nonverbal Skills

For persons on the autism spectrum, speech therapy tackles both spoken and nonverbal communication impairments. Speech therapy may help with the following verbal skills:

  • identifying persons or things correctly.

  • Explicitly expressing sentiments or emotions.

  • Making better use of words and phrases.

  • The tempo and rhythm of speaking should be improved.

Speech therapy focuses on nonverbal communication abilities such as:

  • Hand gestures or sign language are used.

  • Using pictograms as a means of communication (Picture Exchange Communication System).

  • Eye contact and standing at a suitable distance from another person are examples of social skills.

Speech therapists, also known as speech language pathologists (SLPs), play a vital role in the treatment of behavioral issues. They assist autistic persons with comprehending the communication patterns and social skills required in various situations, such as home, work, and school.

Speech therapy may be done one-on-one between the therapist and the client. The therapist may also lead a group, which allows participants to practice skills with one another.

Depending on the individual’s requirements, speech therapy programs will target a variety of abilities. These abilities might include:

  • In a number of situations, you must be able to understand and get along with people.

  • Using communication habits that are suitable.

  • Conversation is passed around in turns.

  • Changing from one duty to the next.

  • Accepting change and broadening one’s horizons.

  • Reading and writing abilities are being improved.

  • Vocabulary and sentence construction are being improved.

A speech language pathologist will assess a person’s capacity to utilize augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) after they are diagnosed with autism, particularly in adolescence or maturity. This is a word that refers to a variety of communication tools for persons who have difficulty talking verbally.

AAC is linked to a number of systems.

  • Unaided systems: These need nothing more than a person’s body. Facial expressions, body language, gestures, and sign language are among them.

  • External devices are used in assisted systems. This may be as simple as a pen and paper, words or images to point to, or a computer system that can generate phrases from the autistic person’s input.

SLPs assist autistic people and their families in determining the best method for improving speech and writing communication.

It’s likely that some teenagers and adults don’t have autism, but rather another social (pragmatic) communication impairment with similar behavioral characteristics. A speech therapist or speech-language pathologist (SLP) may give vital information for this final diagnosis.

Early Speech Therapy Interventions Benefit Children at All Levels

Children with autism benefit considerably from more rigorous speech and behavioral treatment, according to medical research, particularly when they are younger. The better the results, the more inclusive the treatment.

The University of Michigan released a research in 2011 that gathered data from 1,000 children and adolescents with ASD. Researchers looked at 15 different aspects of social communication, including:

When researchers compared the results of these abilities before and after treatment, 95.4 percent of the individuals said they had improved. Those with nonverbal IQs had the best response to counseling. Researchers cautioned, however, that having a higher nonverbal IQ might suggest certain particular areas in which a person excels, but it did not guarantee overall greatness.

Even after controlling for symptom severity and age, children who got more rigorous therapy at a younger age made better progress in social-communication skills. For example, researchers discovered that among children who were nonverbal at the age of five, the combination of a higher IQ and the amount of speech treatment was the most important predictor of whether the kid would become verbal or not.

Managing any communication or speech problems will need various ways depending on the degree of a child’s condition. These levels are described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5)

  • Level 1: These are autism situations that aren’t severe. The individual may have social difficulties, exhibit repetitive habits, and voice worries about restrictive or rule-focused behaviors, but they only need modest assistance with everyday tasks, such as communication.

  • Level 2: This group of persons has greater difficulty with social skills and communication, and their difficulties may be more visible. They may or might not be able to converse vocally. If they speak, their talks are focused on their hobbies rather than a broader variety of subjects.

  • Level 3: This group has significant difficulties comprehending and speaking effectively in social contexts. They also have problems performing in regular tasks due to restricted or repetitive tendencies. They may not be able to communicate verbally or suffer from echolalia.

Early intervention is critical for all children, but it is especially critical for children who may be at Level 3. This helps students to hone their communication skills so that they can communicate with others in the most natural and effective manner possible.

Insurance to Cover Speech Therapy & Other Autism Treatments

Speech therapy is a medical procedure that is often reimbursed by insurance. While there may be some out-of-pocket expenses, insurance companies often pay a significant percentage of the charge.

For families, the total expenses of autism may be very high. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), caring for an autistic kid costs $17,000 more per year on average than caring for a neurotypical child.

In 2017, 46 states teamed together to require autism-related medical care to be covered by insurance. This involves developmental screening as well as professional therapy. The specifications differ from one state to the next. Speech therapy is covered under mandated coverage in several jurisdictions.

If you’re worried about your child’s speech therapy being covered by insurance, talk with your physician to acquire a referral to a specialist in your network. You may also negotiate with your insurance company to discover a speech therapist who accepts your insurance plan.

In most circumstances, your insurance provider will be able to pay the expense of speech therapy since most states mandate insurance companies to fund critical treatments and therapies for autistic people. You may also ask particular treatment providers how they deal with your insurance plan and how much you’ll have to pay out of pocket for sessions.

An Important Treatment

Finally, speech therapy may significantly enhance your child’s speech, language, and communication skills. While speech therapy isn’t the sole treatment for autistic children, it may make a significant difference in their overall care.


Speech therapy is a great tool for helping children with autism. It can help to improve their communication skills and social interactions. However, it is important to remember that not all speech therapy will be effective for every child. So before you start your speech therapy sessions, make sure you know what the goals are for your child. Reference: printable picture scenes for speech therapy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What techniques do speech therapists use?

A: Speech therapists use a variety of techniques in order to help their clients. Some may offer one-on-one sessions, while others would work with groups or through technology like Skype and Google Hangouts. These methods usually include things such as exercises for the voice, breathing retraining and vocal warm ups before speaking tasks.

Can I do speech therapy at home?

A: Speech therapy is an important part of recovery from a stroke and other neurological problems. It can help to improve your mental health, physical coordination, ability to speak and swallow, memory functions and many more areas of daily life for those who need it. To find a speech therapist in your area you should contact the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), which has information about finding care near you on its website at www.asha.org/find-speech-therapist/.

How do I prepare for speech therapy?

A: There are a lot of different things that you can do to prepare for speech therapy. Some people might want to try reading aloud books with their children, others might need to start speaking in sentences more often – and some may just have trouble finding the words theyre looking for.

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