Some children with autism have speech and language delays or problems which – like autism – can vary greatly. For example some autistic children are completely non-verbal, some repeat what another person says a lot (known as ‘echolalia’) and some make babble-type sounds but do not say any words. Autism can affect speech and language, communication and social development.
Speech therapy for kids with autism can make a huge difference. In this blog, SpecialKids Company will tell you about some of the speech therapy techniques available that you can use at home and which might help your child.
Speech Therapy Strategies to Try For Kids With Autism
PECS is an alternative augmentative communication (AAC) system that aims to teach functional conversation. PECS allows children with autism to communicate using pictures. The idea is that a child is encouraged to use pictures and exchange them for what they are asking for. To begin with using PECS can be a very simple method, however, if the system works well for your child, more pictures can be introduced and gradually PECS can be used to form sentences. Sometimes, it can help non-verbal children to develop their spoken language.
Makaton is a type of sign language developed for people with learning disabilities using signs and symbols. It can be used on its own or in conjunction with PECS as an aid to help a child communicate. The spoken word should also be used when it is signed to help develop understanding and encourage speech. You can find lots of information about Makaton on the official website and there are also TV programmes and online videos that you can watch, such as ‘Something Special with Mr Tumble’ and ‘Signing Hands’.
Play therapy is such a great way of encouraging communication in children with autism. Play can help children with autism to connect and express their feelings in a way that is meaningful to them. A simple but effective type of play is basic floor time. Sitting on the floor with your child, letting them play with an object and copying what they do to encourage interaction. The aim is to create a game that goes back and forth between you both that will help to promote communication.
You should also try some fun games like blowing bubbles or rolling a ball to try and gain their attention. If they like the game, they are more likely to try and communicate to you that they want more. If they like an activity, you should pause after doing it and wait for some kind of acknowledgement to do it again.
Intensive interaction is a type of speech therapy for autism that uses body language to communicate. The idea is that the person joining in on the intensive interaction tunes in with the child and establishes emotional engagement by observing their behaviours and reflecting it back. For example, if your child makes a movement, you make the same movement or if they make a vocalisation, you copy it. Hopefully, you will establish a connection and develop an interaction with turn taking and response.
Technology is such a brilliant tool and is often used as a speech and language tool for children with autism. There are apps available that can help to encourage communication. One example is Proloquo2Go, which is a symbol-supported communication app that provides a voice that repeats a word when your child taps a symbol.
We hope that you find these strategies helpful.
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Swimming is a fantastic inclusive activity to do with children with special needs. It’s a great sensory experience that is good fun and has positive benefits for both physical and mental health. It is also an activity that can be done all year round and doesn’t have to be weather dependent (depending on where you choose to swim!).