Skip to content

Autism Spectrum Disorders Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Benefits of Speech Therapy for Autism

Autism is a developmental disability that usually shows up before age 3. Autism may be linked with a wide range of traits. These include:

  • Repetitive activities
  • Extreme resistance to changes in daily routines
  • Unusual responses to things such as touch
  • Inability to interact with environment

People with autism may have major problems with both speech and nonverbal communication. They may also find it very hard to interact socially. For these reasons, speech therapy is a central part of treatment for autism. Speech therapy can address a wide range of communication problems for people with autism.

Recommended Related to Autism

The Latest on Autism

Everywhere you turn, there's another report about autism. It can be so confusing -- and frightening. What is autism anyway? Is autism a hidden epidemic, as we are sometimes led to believe? And is autism linked to childhood vaccines? The answers may surprise you. Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder, or PDD, a group of developmental disorders that involve delays in the development of many basic skills. The most notable delay with autism is the ability to socialize or form relationships with...

Read the The Latest on Autism article > >

What are the common speech and communication problems with autism?

Autism can affect speech, language development, and social communication in many ways.

Speech problems. A person with autism may:

  • Not talk at all
  • Utter grunts, cries, shrieks, or throaty, harsh sounds
  • Hum or talk in a musical way
  • Babble with word-like sounds
  • Use foreign-sounding "words" or robotic-like speech
  • Parrot or often repeat what another person says (called echolalia)
  • Use the right phrases and sentences, but with an unexpressive tone of voice

About one out of three people with autism has trouble producing speech sounds to effectively communicate with others. The person's language, if present, is simply too hard to understand.

Communication problems. A person with autism may have one or more of these communication challenges:

  • Trouble with conversational skills, which include eye contact and gestures
  • Trouble understanding the meaning of words outside the context where they were learned
  • Memorization of things heard without knowing what's been said
  • Reliance on echolalia -- the repeating of another's words as they are being said -- as the main way to communicate
  • Little understanding of the meaning of words or symbols
  • Lack of creative language

Because of these challenges, a child with autism must do more than learn how to speak. The child also has to learn how to use language to communicate. This includes knowing how to hold a conversation. It also includes tuning into both verbal and nonverbal cues from other people -- such as facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language.

Today on WebMD

girl at window
Symptoms within the first 2 years of a child’s life.
boy playing a violin
How is this condition similar to autism?
 
Mother and daughter indoors playing
Play therapy may undo the disorder in at-risk babies.
preschool age girl sitting at desk
What causes this rare form of autism?
 
High Functioning Autism And Asperge Syndrome
Article
Gluten Free Diet Slideshow
Article
 
Mother and daughter indoors playing
Article
Vaccine and needle
VIDEO
 
girl at window
Article
Mother hugging teenage son
Article
 
Understanding Rett Syndrome
Article
Home Care Tips
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections