Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders


Aspergers Children and Speech Problems

Approximately 50% of kids with Aspergers have delayed speech. While many kids grow out of this by age five, others go on to experience other language problems. These generally fall into one or more of the following three areas of linguistics:

1. Pragmatics and Aspergers—

Pragmatics refers to language usage and the way that context relates to meaning. Kids with Aspergers often have difficulty in holding a normal conversation where there is give and take and social interaction. While most people learn these skills by observing others, those with Aspergers may need personal coaching. Problems with pragmatics manifest in the following forms:

• does not allow the other person to talk
• does not use people’s names
• focuses exclusively on topics that interest them
• gives too much detailed information
• interrupting others
• lack of facial expression and eye contact
• lack of greeting
• oblivious to boredom in others
• oblivious to emotional reactions in others

2. Semantics and Aspergers—

Semantics is defined as the meaning or interpretation of a word, sentence, or other language form. While many people with Aspergers are extremely intelligent and avid readers, they often struggle in this particular area. They may have problems with the following:

• difficulty in understanding jokes
• difficulty in understanding metaphors and figures of speech
• interpreting everything literally
• pedantic speech
• problems with understanding teasing
• sarcasm is not understood

3. Prosody and Aspergers—

Prosody refers to the tonal and rhythmic aspects of speech. People and particularly kids with Aspergers often have a strange manner of speaking. It may come across with words enunciated precisely and formally and the speed, volume and rhythm may be odd. Problem areas to look out for include the following:

• difficulties in coordinating speaking and breathing
• little or no inflection
• monotonous sound
• stilted or formal speech
• strange rhythms of speech
• talking loudly

Help is Available for Linguistic Difficulties—

Aspergers kids and grown-ups with language problems can benefit from one-on-one training with a parent or speech therapist. The problems are often tackled individually and it takes perseverance and repetition to see lasting results. Methods vary but could include the following:

• practicing eye contact and body language
• practicing normal pronunciation and inflection
• teaching how to start a conversation
• training them not to interrupt
• use of pictures to explain figures of speech

It is never too late to seek help for speech difficulties and while a person may never sound completely normal or be able to hold a perfect conversation; there are definitely ways to work towards a great improvement. The key to success is often a commitment from a parent or family member to work with the youngster or grown-up for extended periods of time.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

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