Language Development in Autistic Children

Children with autism often face language difficulties. These delays can span from verbal to social to receptive problems. Since the intensity of language problems can range as wide as the autism spectrum itself, professionally led diagnosis and intervention is the best path for treatment of any problems you see in your autistic child’s language development.


Problems

Autism is characterized by self-focused behavior and a lack of interaction with the outside. Language delays or blockages among autistic children has similar characterized. Children may start speaking late or may not speak at all. Unlike other speech delays, the child will not attempt to compensate with hand gestures, fits, crying or other forms of communication. He may simply not strive to communicate. He may show a blankness, disinterest or confusion when you speak to him. He may not respond to your communication.

Consequences

The inability to communicate can have lifelong, devastating effects. Children learn much about themselves and their world by communicating, asking questions and trying out grammar and words. If the building blocks are not put into place early, children may suffer a lifetime of confusion and frustration. Their vocabulary, grammar, structure and semantics may all suffer. Even if you intervene early, autistic children may lack the necessary social signals for average, comfortable communication.

Intervention

If you notice certain language problems, address them with your doctor early. Don’t assume it’s normal, even for your autistic child. Every child is different and may benefit from speech therapy in various ways. Begin working with a speech and language pathologist, who specializes in autism, as soon as possible.

Support

Your autistic child may not be the only who suffers from the language delays. A study out of Washington University found that brothers and sisters of those with language delays due to autism suffer certain delays themselves. Families may suffer emotional strain from the language delays. If your child has been diagnosed with autism and language delays, seek local support groups and talk with professionals about the best way to keep communication and language healthy in the home.

Watch For The Signs

Because the best thing you can do for your child’s language development is to intervene early, keep an eye out for any problems. If your baby doesn’t react to your talking with coos and giggles, this may be a linguistic sign for the future. If your toddler hasn’t attempted to talk or otherwise communicate, take note of this. If your child doesn’t try to interact with or talk to his peers, talk with a doctor. The sooner you can start intervening, the sooner you can start designing an individual treatment plan.

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