Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral problems. These aspects can be presented in different ways in each of the people. Therefore, rather than talking about autism as an entity, we must consider autism spectrum disorders.
One of the great problems of children with autism is language and verbal communication, which is closely linked to behavioral disturbances.
Each child is a world, and their development is determined by different factors. According to various authors, children with autism can develop language in the following ways:
- Autistic children who do not develop any type of oral language.
- Children who acquire language with delay, both in understanding and in expression.
- Children whose language has abnormalities such as echolalia, pragmatic disorders, alterations in prosody or in the use of certain words.
It is very important to encourage communication with these children. However, speech therapy intervention in these cases is much broader, and would cover different aspects:
1- Acquisition of the basic requirements for language development:
Aspects such as:
- Basic communication skills.
- Order tracking and imitation.
- Symbolic game.
2- Eliminate inappropriate behaviors:
The aim is to reduce the frequency of inappropriate behaviors and increase the frequency of appropriate behaviors.
3- Alternative or augmentative communication system:
Depending on the child's language level, we can assess the introduction of an alternative or augmentative system of communication. Also, it is important to reinforce all levels of language: phonetics-phonology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, all depending on the capacities of each child.
We must adapt the intervention to each of the children at all times. Therefore, a thorough evaluation and constant adaptation of the intervention program based on the child's progress will be necessary.
Likewise, it will be important to inform the parents of the diagnosis of their child and its implications, of the objectives of the treatment and of the course of the same. In addition, the speech therapist must be in direct contact with the professionals of the school, to carry out a joint intervention and optimize the results.
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