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

    "We Need to Pull Ryan into This World"

    By Nancy RonesEvery inch of progress that Ryan Kalkowski makes in his battle against autism gives his parents new hope — and new determination. In this month’s installment, we look at how far this little boy has come, how far he still has to go, and what his family is willing to sacrifice to get there. In the prevent installment of REDBOOK'S Living With Autism series, Nicole Kalkowski was amazed and overjoyed when she began witnessing signs of progress in her little boy. After Ryan started speech...

    Read the "We Need to Pull Ryan into This World" 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
    Where do they fall on the spectrum?
     
    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 condition?
     
    High Functioning Autism And Asperge Syndrome
    Article
    Gluten Free Diet Slideshow
    Article
     
    Mother and daughter indoors playing
    Article
    man on bicycle
    VIDEO
     
    girl at window
    Article
    Mother hugging teenage son
    Article
     
    Understanding Rett Syndrome
    Article
    Home Care Tips
    Article
     

    WebMD Special Sections