Most autism behavioral intensive therapy programs include speech-language therapy. With a variety of techniques, speech-language therapy addresses a range of challenges often faced by children with autism. For instance, some kids on the autism spectrum do not speak, while others love to talk but have difficulty using conversational speech and/or understanding the nuances of language and nonverbal cues when talking with others. Speech-language therapy is designed to coordinate the mechanics of speech with the meaning and social use of language. Such a program begins with an individual evaluation by a speech-language pathologist to assess child’s verbal aptitudes and challenges. From this evaluation, the pathologist sets goals that may include mastering spoken language and/or learning nonverbal communication skills such as signs or gestures. In each case, the goal is to help the child communicate in more useful and functional ways. Our speech language pathologist can provide therapy one-on-one, in a small group or in a classroom setting.
Augmentative and Alternative Communication
Nonverbal children with autism can benefit from a variety of augmentative and alternative communicative (AAC) devices and methods. The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is among the most commonly used with children who have little or no verbal ability. Therapists, teachers and parents help the child build a vocabulary and consistently articulate desires, observations and feelings through pictures. This system can be taught and used at home, in the classroom and a variety of other settings. At the start of a PECS program, the instructor teaches the child to exchange a picture for an object—for instance, a picture of an apple for an actual apple. With instruction, the person learns to distinguish pictures and symbols and use both to form sentences. Although PECS is based on visual tools, the program emphasizes and reinforces verbal communication. Caregivers can purchase standard PECS images as a part of a manual or simply gather photos from everyday sources such as newspapers, magazines and books. Other augmentative and alternative communicative devices include specially programmed computers, iPads, and iPhones.
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