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Benefits of Speech Therapy for Autism

What are the benefits of speech therapy for autism?

Speech therapy can improve overall communication. This makes it possible for people with autism to improve their ability to form relationships and function in day-to-day life.

Specific goals of speech therapy include helping the individual with autism:

  • Articulate words well
  • Communicate both verbally and nonverbally
  • Comprehend verbal and nonverbal communication, understanding others' intentions in a range of settings
  • Initiate communication without prompting from others
  • Know the appropriate time and place to communicate something; for example, when to say "good morning"
  • Develop conversational skills
  • Exchange ideas
  • Communicate in ways to develop relationships
  • Enjoy communicating, playing, and interacting with peers
  • Learn self-regulation

When is the best time to start speech therapy for autism?

The earlier, the better. Autism is usually evident before age 3, and language delays can be recognized as early as 18 months of age. In some cases, autism can be identified as early 10 to 12 months of age. It is very important to start speech therapy as early as possible, when it can have the greatest impact. Intensive, individualized treatment can help lessen the disabling isolation that may result from this social communication disability.

With early identification and intervention, two out of three preschoolers with autism improve communication skills and their grasp of spoken language. Research shows those who improve the most are often those who receive the most speech therapy.

To find a speech-language pathologist, go to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's web site at www.asha.org. There are other sources, so ask your pediatrician for suggestions.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Alan G Weintraub, MD on May 12, 2013

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