Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a disorder that ranges in severity from mild to severe. ASD can occur with or without an intellectual disability. You may also know of ASD from outdated terms like Asperger’s Syndrome or “high-functioning” autism.

ASD is a lifelong disorder however evidence shows that access to early intervention programs can make a significant difference to your child’s communication. There is varying research nowadays, but some sources indicate ASD occurs in 1 in 36 children and is more common in boys than girls. A paediatrician and/or neuropsychologist can diagnose ASD and can assign Level 1, 2, or 3 to indicate severity.

Children with ASD experienced difficulties in three main areas.

  • Social interaction and an inability to understand the social rules.
  • Communication disorder
  • Difficulty with flexibility and thinking.

Children with ASD vary significantly from person-to-person. Some children may be non-verbal and rely on gestures or assistive devices to communicate, others can talk fluently but have significant difficulty with the social aspect of language. Some children “mask” their difficulties so that they can meet social expectations. Children with ASD often have difficulty interacting with peers as they have not mastered the social rules of communication, such as initiating and maintaining a conversation or understanding body language and facial expressions. In the early years, this also affects the child’s play skills.

A strong trusting relationship with your speech pathologist is important, as communication is often a major factor in your child’s inability to interact with those around them.

Your Speech Pathologists should be involved in the assessment, diagnosis and intervention of children with ASD. The Speech Pathologist works closely with the parents and teachers to ensure speech and language goals are achieved in all communication settings.

Recent research has indicated that ASD children who develop their language skills earlier tended to have better outcomes overall