Developing Essential Skills With Speech And Art Therapy

Individuals with autism have different challenges in areas such as communication, behaviour, and social skills. They find difficulty in initiating a meaningful conversation and inability to decipher facial expressions. They find difficulty in making friends and understand social cues. Some people with autism may not talk at all, and others may talk very well, at times even knowing what they say.

Children as well as adults with autism have restricted interest and indulge in repetitive action and speech. Some of them can memorize their favourite ad or song which they repeat fluently. They have the tendency to get attached to certain objects or activities and show interest in music or a television show.

Sudden changes in their schedule are something that they react aggressively.

Diagnosing Autism

Diagnosing autism is done by a professional team of doctors, neurologists, speech-language pathologists, and psychologists. An audiologist also does tests to assure that the individual does not have hearing loss.

Most of the individuals with autism face social-communication challenges due to inadequate vocabulary. With speech therapy for autism, the therapists can figure out the best treatment options to ease the challenges and severity of speech/communication disorders.

Treatments For Communication Disorder

Autism cannot be completely cured. Early intervention programs or therapies are preferred for a quick and pleasant result. Through speech therapy for autism, the therapists help to build communication and social skills in sessions conducted in groups or at home or school. Group sessions allow individuals to practice skills together and experience pleasant interaction and bonding.

Role of Speech Therapists

Once autism is diagnosed, speech therapists employ various techniques to improve communication and speech skills. This helps in enhancing the quality of life in individuals with autism.

Some of these techniques include:

  • Apps and electronic ‘talkers’
  • Picture exchange communication systems that use picture cards to help a child learn to communicate
  • Massaging the lips and facial muscles to improve articulation of speech
  • Encouraging the individuals to speak (in shrieks or hoarse voice) in a composed sing-song manner. This helps in releasing the built-in stress

The goals of speech therapy for autism include helping to:

  • Understand and develop both verbal and nonverbal communication
  • Articulate words well
  • Indulge in a two-way conversation
  • Communicate without prompts from others
  • Know where to use words such as please, thank you, good morning and sorry
  • Enjoy playing and interacting

Early identification and intervention during childhood stage, improves the ability to grasp spoken language and learn communication skills.

Art Therapy Treatment For Autism

People with verbal or non-verbal limitations show great skills in other areas. If exposed to the use of artistic media, such as a canvas, paint, pencil, and brush, it helps in building a wide range of skills. They feel more comfortable expressing their feelings and desires more effectively than in a spoken language form. Art therapy for autism offers an opportunity for therapists to build a wide range of skills when working one-on-one with individuals.

Thus, art therapy for autism is a useful tool for helping children release their inbuilt emotions through strokes, lines, and colours.

 What art therapy does for individuals?

Art therapy for autism opens various opportunities for individuals with artistic flair and an opportunity to bond with other participants. Some of the other benefits include:

  • Enhanced imagination power and the capability to think symbolically
  • The ability to recognize facial expressions
  • Improvement in managing sensory issues such as accepting the texture or the stickiness of paints, coping with the scratching sound made by the pencil or brush
  • Improved fine motor skills

Speech and language therapists are qualified people having a specific experience working with individuals with autism. To find a speech therapist near your vicinity online, click here

How effective is Speech Therapy for Autism?

Autism affects the ability of the child and restricts him/her from leading a normal life. Damage to certain parts of the brain results in several disabling symptoms to develop in a child affected with Autism. The most prominent problem would be communicating with the child suffering from an inability with long-lasting complications.

Difference between ‘Language and Speech’

When we think of the ability to ‘speak’, we often construe it to mean the ability to ‘verbalize.’ However, the ability to learn the language is more important than to learn how to verbalize it.

Ideally, the communication process should be effective in expressing one’s ideas, opinions and expressions through a meaningful way; wherein, the other person involved in the communication process should be able to understand, then process and respond in a similar manner.

What kind of speech disorders are seen in Autism?

To understand the definition of ‘speech,’ it is sufficient to understand that the verbal communication is made of:

  • Articulation –This indicates the ability to produce comprehensible sounds.
  • Voice – This is the sound which is produced by the speech box (vocal cords) of the child.
  • Fluency – This indicates the clarity and smoothness with which the child talks.

How to identify speech disorders in children with Autism?

It is true that each child takes a different amount of time to learn how to speak and understand the language, and at the same time,it is also easy to identify when the child is actually facing problems with speech due to Autism.

These are the signs and symptoms of speech disorder in children due to Autism:

  • Not fluent – The child stutters and repeats sounds, words or phrases despite being over 4 years of age.
  • Using ‘fillers’ – Sounds that are used to fill the gap before articulating the next set of words, such as ‘ah’, ‘umm’, , are used excessively by children affected with Autism.
  • Articulation difficulties –The sounds made by the child are often distorted. The child will substitute or avoid the consonants altogether.
  • Vocal disorders – Throaty and harsh voice may also result in the child being unable to communicate. The child may experience an instant shift in the pitch of the voice. It can become too soft or too loud. Hyper or hypo nasality changes the tone and voice of the child extensively.

Due to these speech disorders, the child needs to undergo effective speech therapy for Autism which can help him/her to regain the communication skills and eventually improve the social interactions and behavioural skills as well. 

What are the benefits of Speech Therapy for Autism?

An expert speech/language therapist can help the children to regain effective communication skills in a short period of time. These are the essential techniques used in speech therapy for Autism:

Electronic talking devices – These devices are designed to help the children express themselves in a better way. Learning anew language and improving the vocabulary are the benefits of these devices.

Using visual aids – The child also finds it easier to communicate (initially) using signboards and other visual props to express themselves.

These skills are important for the child with autism to learn and to have normal communication skills and an ideal social interactive behaviour.