Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) generally show developmental difficulties in a range of areas, including social interaction, communication and restricted or repetitive behaviours.
This may present as impairment with the following:
Specific language impairment describes delays in areas of language development only. This can include both receptive and expressive language and either domain may be affected to varying degrees.
Children with specific language impairment have other developmental skills that remain intact, but struggle to understand or use language at an appropriate level for their age.
Phonological and articulatory delays concern the development of age appropriate speech sounds and processes. For more information, please see SPEECH DEVELOPMENT
Social use of language is an important part of a child’s communication. Children may struggle to interact with family, friends, relatives, teachers and other professionals. Where grammar, structure, content and speech sounds may be intact, difficulties can arise with the appropriateness of language used and the ability to recognise what to use, when, with whom and under what circumstances.
Therapy works to develop verbal and non-verbal social use of language and communication to help children to build successful relationships with those around them.
Children with acquired language impairments due to brain injuries, infections and similar conditions often have a different communication profile to other children whose language difficulties are developmental. In these cases, because language has developed to some extent typically, children have uneven language skills and may be proficient in some areas, but need support in other areas of communication.
It is important to have a good understanding of the child’s language up until the acquired injury, as well as information regarding the type, location and extent of any injury. Therapists will work closely with other professionals to help the brain reteach skills that have been lost, and offer strategies for support where full recovery is not possible, to help the child become a confident communicator.
Children with oro-motor difficulties may struggle to produce movements associated with the mouth, tongue, lips and other feeding and speech structures. These difficulties arise from trouble with coordination or strength of movement, rather than physical problems.
Oromotor difficulties may have many different causes and may cause problems with respiration, eating, saliva management, speech and non-verbal communication. Speech and language therapists perform thorough assessments to determine the nature and extent of these impairments to determine the best ways to treat them.
Hearing is fundamental to children’s speech and language development, and it is important to recognize impairments in hearing early so that measures can be taken to encourage other methods of communication than verbal language.
Hearing impairments specifically impact vocabulary, sentence structure, speech, academic achievement and social functioning.
Speech therapists work with children with corrected hearing loss to enable them to catch up with their language development, or to offer other methods of communication to support/substitute verbal communication.
Stammering or stuttering, as well as cluttering, all affect the fluency of children’s speech. Difficulties with fluency may be more complex than appears and can be caused by a variety of factors. Speech and language therapists use a variety of methods to help improve fluency or manage features of non-fluent speech so that children can communicate effectively.
Whilst non-fluent speech may resolve itself without therapy, it is important to seek the advice of a speech and language therapist who can advise you further regarding your child’s fluency.
Feeding and swallowing disorders in children can be difficult and frequently dangerous to manage without the support of a speech and language therapist. Feeding and swallowing difficulties can have serious health implications and also cause difficulties with behaviour and social development.
If you have any concerns with your child’s feeding or swallowing, please contact your family doctor. If necessary, your doctor may recommend a speech and language therapist to develop feeding in which case we can perform a thorough assessment in our clinic to begin feeding therapy.