World Autism Awareness Day: Speech therapy for autistic kids

As tomorrow is World Autism Awareness Day (2nd April), we tell you why speech therapy is crucial for an autistic child and how this therapy works

Autism is a developmental disorder which impairs your child’s ability to interact with others apart from affecting his other cognitive capabilities. The symptoms can be witnessed in kids by the age of 2. According to a 2018 study published in the journal PLOS Medicine, in India, one out of every eight children under the age of 10 suffers from at least one neurodevelopment disorder.

Autistic children face difficulty in producing speech sounds, language development and nonverbal communication. That’s why social interaction also becomes a challenge for them. Kids diagnosed with autism may not speak at all or find it difficult to form sentences. Owing to their inability to express themselves, they sometimes grunt, cry, shriek or make harsh sounds to communicate. You may also find them babbling like toddlers, create meaningless words or repeat what others say. Those who can speak, may sometimes utter a full sentence without any expression at all. The other communications problems include inability to comprehend the meaning and context of words in different situations, memorising sentences or conversations without understanding them and lack of ability to catch non-verbal cues such as body language, facial expressions, etc. This is where speech therapy comes in handy . A speech therapist, also known as speech-language pathologist, helps autistic kids to address these issues.


A speech therapist may use various techniques to enhance your kid’s speech, language, social interaction and non-verbal skills after assessing his condition. These techniques may include pretend-play therapies, singing, typing, using picture books with words and sounds that your child is particularly sensitive to, etc. The therapy may also involve massaging or exercising lips and facial muscles. This will improve her speech articulation.


The speech difficulties of autistic kids vary. So the therapy technique is also not the same for all. Much like every other health or mental condition, it is important to catch early signs of this condition for the early access of treatment. Autism spectrum disorder can be witnessed in kids before they turn 3 and you can identify delay in language when they complete 18 months. Also, sometimes autism can be detected even before your little one completes his first year. To get the best results, you should begin speech therapy as soon as you can to have a significant effect your kid’s condition. Modified and thorough approach may lower the disabling isolation which can develop due to inefficiency of communicating socially.

Diagnosing and treating the condition early can help two out of three autistic pre-schoolers to enhance their communication skills along with a better understanding of spoken language. Several researches have mentioned that usually the kids who show more signs of improvement are the ones who took earlier speech therapy. On the eve of World Autism Awareness Day, we tell you how this therapy helps a child suffering from autism.

Boosts social communication

One of the major things a speech therapist will look to improve is the ability of your child to interact in a social environment. It is the most common problem any autistic child experiences in which they are unable to understand verbal and non-verbal signs from others. Speech therapy can help by working on these barriers that can pose behavioural issues and affect your child’s academic performance too.

Helps your child articulate better

Speech production involves the movement of teeth, lips, tongue, and jaw in a sequential order to form words and sentences. Kids with autism are incapable of following this process. Speech therapy helps in improving the attentiveness, listening skills, and muscle coordination which eventually enhances your little one to articulate better. A speech therapist can help your kid to copy facial expression while speaking and listen attentively while others are communicating to them.

Enhances non-verbal communication

Speech therapy covers both the facets of communication: Verbal and non-verbal (communicating through signs, gestures and actions). Most of the times, you tend to miss out on the non-verbal part which plays an equally important role in your communication and focus on words only which doesn’t cure the problem completely. Some studies state that around 70 to 80 per cent of the communication involves non-verbal techniques to communicate your message to others. A speech therapist may work on educating your kid on how to speak along with helping him understand the body language of the other person in order to enhance his speech.

Develops conversational skills

Another common problem among autistic children is the inability to stay put through a conversation which takes away their confidence of initiating a conversation. This therapy works on creating fluency by improving their understanding of a language. In some cases, children with autism can also stammer as they try to communicate. So a speech therapist may encourage your kid to use short and easy words to express what they want to convey instead of lengthy, difficult-to-pronounce words.

Improves self-regulation

Self-regulation means controlling an individual’s feelings, thoughts, and actions. Some children face difficulty in expressing their feelings and speech therapy can be fruitful for your child to communicate feelings such as hunger, sleepiness, excitement, etc. Also, this therapy will help him to differentiate between the feeling of calmness and fear.


Disclaimer: All information, data and material has been sourced from multiple authors and is for general information and educational purposes only and are not intended to replace the advice of your treating doctor.

The views and nutritional advice expressed are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

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