What are Autism Speech Therapy Techniques and Activities?
Whether you are a parent attempting to improve your child’s communication skills or a speech therapist who works with children on the autism spectrum, knowing a few focused speech therapy activities can help. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects language in significant ways. Children with ASD often find it challenging to use language socially and/or functionally. As a parent or a speech therapist, knowing which exercise suits an age group or child is essential in helping children with ASD.
In this blog, we discuss autism speech therapy activities and techniques based on age group. The age groups are defined as:
Middle and High School
Autism Speech Therapy Activities During Early Childhood
For any therapy, choosing the correct approach is crucial. The approach should be age appropriate as well. Most children are first diagnosed with ASD during their early childhood. This is because it is the age when language skills start to develop. Therefore, in case a child doesn’t develop language skills at this age, speech therapy will have meaningful results.
For children in their early childhood, trying to imitate animal sounds is the best way to help them develop speech. As children tend to be affectionate towards animals, imitating animal sounds builds an emotional connection. You can use stuffed animals for this exercise.
Routine is very important for children with ASD. Hence, try to build conversational routines. These help in encouraging language. Simple conversational routines like counting, or activities starting with statements such as ready steady, go, when children are on top of a slide, etc. are good starting points to initiate such routines. Once these routines are set, slowly encourage your child to say the ultimate and/or penultimate words.
Rewarding children at this age is good. It enables them to be attentive.
Speech Therapy Activities During Preschool
Preschool offers the right setting and age for language to be used in a social setting. From playing in parallel to playing together, children evolve during this period. For children on the spectrum, preschool can be challenging. Here are some ideas for preschoolers.
Speech therapy is not limited to verbal communication. Non-verbal communication is also addressed as part of the therapy. For children with ASD, communicating with their peers non-verbally can prove to be complex.
Play games with your child. This helps with non-verbal communication. Playing gestural games is advisable. Rewarding the child also helps him/her remember the meaning of a particular gesture.
Further to the above exercise, play games that ensure all involved players take turns. Children who are on the spectrum are highly visual. Games like Memory, Odd One Out, etc. are a good start.
Speech Therapy Activities During Elementary School
This is the period when things tend to get more demanding for children with ASD. Negotiating complex non-verbal social interactions, explaining views, expressing opinions, etc., are just a few aspects of expected situations that may occur within elementary school.
Teach your child to label feelings. You can use drawings or cartoons to help them show feelings. Alternatively, you can suggest non-verbal responses to those feelings as well.
Make Them Inquisitive
Teach your child the importance of asking questions. This will prove beneficial for him/her later on in life. This exercise is extremely crucial during this period as it helps in social situations, and connecting with peers.
Speech Therapy Activities During Middle School and High School
During middle and high school, children face many social pressures. Children with ASD can find it extremely stressful during this period. Now is the right time to focus on incorporating life-skills that help children succeed in the long term.
It is common for children in middle and high school to be in unpredictable situations that can cause distress. To help your child during his/her middle school or high school, practice such situations at home. Talk about labeling feelings, listening attentively, etc., so that they can maneuver out of that situation. This should come naturally to children as they would have already practiced labeling feelings among other activities during their preschool and elementary school years.
Giving and receiving compliments is a crucial part of our everyday lives. For children with ASD, this can be difficult. Start slow, by commenting on a family member’s look. You can steadily graduate to other aspects as well. Practice giving compliments to a child after a therapy session.
For children with ASD, speech therapy is a critical building block to create an environment that is conducive to a fruitful social life. This therapy can dramatically change the life of a child.
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