How Speech-Language Pathologists Can Help Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

By: Virginia M. Van Epps, M.Ed. CCC-SLP, CLC

The recognition of the importance of early diagnosis and intervention for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is ever increasing. Likewise, the demand for these services is continually on the rise. Speech-language pathologists are one of numerous professionals who play a critical role in serving children and families with autism.

Early and Intensive Intervention is Key

One of the most important factors in terms of outcomes is early identification. The other is intensive intervention, beginning at the earliest possible age. As soon as there are concerns for the possibility of autism, you should discuss them with your child’s primary care physician and pursue comprehensive assessment by developmental specialists, including speech-language pathologists (SLPs).

Options for Services

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often perform better with a consistent environment and familiar routine. They also benefit from more intensive services (e.g. programmed on a daily basis or throughout the day). This often lends itself better to seeing the child in their “natural environment,” or within their typical daily routine.

That being said, the needs for children with ASD will change over the course of time. There are times in which it might be indicated to receive additional, clinically-based services in the outpatient hospital clinic (or similar setting).
Having an assessment by a clinician, and establishing a relationship that can allow for collaboration between the clinical setting and natural environment, is beneficial to coordination of the child’s plan of care.

Helpful Resources

This article from Autism Speaks and the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) about the importance of speech-language pathology for children with ASD offers helpful information related to this critical area of need in the health of children, families, and society.

The Autism Spectrum Assessment Program (ASAP) at Connecticut Children’s is a comprehensive program for diagnosis of autism. The department of Speech-Language Pathology provides therapeutic services for children diagnosed with autism and related language disorders.

Virginia M. Van Epps, M.Ed. CCC-SLP, CLC is the clinical manager of Connecticut Children’s Speech-Language Pathology department.

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