Children on the autistic spectrum often display difficulties in areas of communication. Speech therapy is frequently employed as part of their treatment.
Speech therapists (STs) are frequently the practitioners that diagnose autism and help with referrals to other specialists, so it is quite critical to start speech therapy early in a child’s life if autism is a possibility. At Spectrum Behavioral Services, our team of dedicated speech therapists have been trained specifically in autism treatment.
Once a diagnosis of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) has been made, the speech therapist can determine the most effective treatment methods for improving the individual’s quality of life, working closely with other practitioners, school, and the family.
The term ‘speech therapy’ can cover a wide-ranging set of treatments. Naturally, it can include teaching a child how to properly pronounce various words. However, there is a lot more involved. People with ASD can exhibit a wide range of communication problems, depending partly on where their disability falls on the spectrum. Some may not speak at all. Others talk constantly. Some might babble unintelligibly, or make guttural or shrieking noises. Others use made-up ‘words’, or repeat everything that’s said to them. And many on the upper end of the spectrum use language correctly, but in a monotonic voice that lacks all expression.
When treating ASD, Spectrum Behavioral Services speech therapists might focus on ‘pragmatics’, trying to avoid the situation where a person with autism learns the meaning of a word or phrase in one context, but fails to understand how a different situation or circumstance can cause that word’s meaning to vary. They also might delve into developing basic conversational skills, as knowing the meaning and context of words doesn’t always ensure that one will be able to exchange thoughts and ideas with other people successfully.
Occupational therapy is used to help children achieve an improved quality of life. The purpose of integrating occupational therapy into autistic spectrum therapy is to introduce, improve and maintain the skills needed to function in daily life, and all ages of people with autism can benefit.
At Spectrum Behavioral Services, our occupational therapists will help individuals achieve independence in all facets of their lives. Our occupational therapists strive to implement this goal when introducing skills to the autistic person and then seeking to maintain and improve them.
Tasks associated with occupational therapy can help people on the autistic spectrum with: motor skills, whether the more ‘gross’ skills for walking, bike riding and similar tasks, or for ‘fine’ skills – things such as writing, coloring or using scissors. Also, our occupational therapists will help with daily living tasks like combing hair, brushing teeth, going to the bathroom and dressing.
Activities Spectrum occupational therapists introduced to help the autistic child might include playing in a ball pit, or using puppets, clay, blocks, puzzles, musical instruments, or toys with push buttons on them.
Some research has shown that occupational therapy that included ‘sensory integration’ principles allowed for improved results compared to standard care. Sensory integration therapy recognizes that individuals on the autistic spectrum frequently process sensation poorly, such as being very sensitive to quiet sounds, not reacting at all to very loud noises, not having the ability to utilize bodily sensations to control movements when engaged in play or other active tasks, or being unable to tolerate specific types of fabrics in their clothing. Sensory therapy attempts to initiate improved processing of sensation.
Physical therapy is helpful for people with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). Autistic individuals may need help with poor muscle tone, both fine and gross motor skills, poor coordination and balance, and postural deficiencies. At Spectrum Behavioral Services, our physical therapists will work with your child to maximize his/her potential for coordinated range of motion and balance deficiencies.
Physical therapy for young children on the autistic spectrum could vary quite a bit, since the symptoms can vary so widely depending on where the child is on the spectrum. The therapy typically will include help with basic physical skills such as standing, walking, sitting and playing, and would also introduce techniques that can help with coordination and strength.
The physical therapist at Spectrum Behavioral Services will attempt to help older children with more sophisticated tasks like throwing, catching, kicking, running and skipping. These skills are helpful in encouraging kids on the autistic spectrum to more fully participate in recess and sports, allowing them to achieve a greater level of social engagement.
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