"My Aspie son often gets his words mixed up, and doesn't pronounce certain words properly. Do you think he would benefit from speech therapy?"
Communication depends on three factors: hearing, speaking, and understanding. Problems may occur if there's an abnormality in any of the areas. Usually, however, articulation issues account for 80 percent of speech delays in Aspergers kids. If your son has difficulty forming words and exhibits lazy tongue, lisp, baby talk, thick speech, or mumbled speech, then he may benefit from speech therapy.
Speech therapy can be an important part of a treatment plan for children with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism who are having difficulty with speech, who are minimally verbal, or in rare cases non-verbal. Speech therapy is more than just working out how to say the right words, though. It focuses on what the child wants or needs rather than simply on verbal communication.
Components of speech therapy include:
- understanding body language
- understanding tone of voice
- using facial or manual gestures
- understanding body orientation
Speech therapy can help parents, too. Moms and dads can learn to read their Aspergers child's body language and facial expressions and will learn to connect those expressions to specific needs (some of this is picked up by the parent by chance and by exposure to the child).
If you suspect that your son may have a speech issue, ask your doctor for a referral to a speech pathologist. They will do an official evaluation and test him. Areas of testing range from physical skills to vocabulary and grammar knowledge. Parents are usually told the results quite quickly, and a written report typically follows within a week.
A good speech therapist can help your son make large gains. But you can help, too. Your son will probably be given a bit of “homework” (i.e., articulation exercises to practice with the parent each day).
Speech therapy can be taught at school or through an outpatient department of a hospital. Most children’s hospitals have good speech therapy departments that can work with both parents and children to maximize communication using the skills the child can work with.