Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) have impairments in social communication, social interaction, restricted and repetitive interests and behaviours. The first sign that a parent might notice is that the child doesn’t respond when their name is called. Children with ASD usually have limited eye contact and don’t copy gestures like waving and clapping. They don’t seek to interact and share their interests with others like bringing a favourite toy to show.
Children with ASD are usually slow to develop language. They may have very few words and may not use these words for communication. When they do have language they may have a restricted range of interests and not use their language to communicate with others. Their language might be repetitive and not have an obvious context. Children with ASD usually have difficulty understanding the verbal and non-verbal communication of others so they might not be able to understand simple instructions or social norms.
Speech Pathologists can contribute to the assessment and diagnosis of ASD and provide intervention to address the core features of ASD. This may include activities to develop understanding of nonverbal communicative behaviours such as facial expression, gesture and body language; promoting the use of verbal and non verbal communication to initiate and take part in social interactions and using communication to help regulate behaviour and emotions.