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Courtney Rosenfeld

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Autism and Speech Therapy: 4 Questions All Parents Should Ask


CRosenfeld

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If you are a parent with a child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), chances are you might be referred to a speech therapist. Working speech challenges can have a lot of ups and downs for parents and children, and it’s hard to know in advance what to expect. Asperger Experts presents the following guide to help make this journey — at least the start of it — a little more familiar for you.

 

What is speech therapy?

 

Speech therapy is a term used to describe a very vast and complex field. A speech therapist can help with any type of communication disorder, both in form (working through a stutter) and function (how to communicate in social situations).

 

Why does my child with ASD need it?

Speech therapy can help your child learn how to communicate and interact with people in a way that is both comfortable for them and socially appropriate for others. What’s more, speech therapy can help them with things like public speaking, which is an important skill to have when looking for a job. Some of the speech therapy strategies for ASD include learning how to:

 

Ask and answer questions.

Read body language for communication clues.

Use non-verbal communication tools.

Understand and even use idioms.

Social and conversation skills.

 

How can I manage my child’s anxiety about speech therapy?

 

If your child has just been given an ASD diagnosis, there are a lot of changes ahead. And as you know, changes aren’t always comfortable for kids in general, but especially for those on the Autism spectrum. You’ll want to try out a few options for managing their anxiety, such as:

 

Joining a support group (in-person or online) for parents and children whose lives are touched by ASD. While no one is going through your exact situation, there are many who can empathize and may have some good experiences and advice to share. Plus, if your child is more comfortable making friends online, he or she can talk with other children with ASD who can share their positive experiences with speech therapy.

 

Teaching your child deep breathing techniques that can help lower heart rate and blood pressure, thereby reducing the physical effects of anxiety. Feeling the stress and pressure of uncertainty plagues the mind and the body. Helping your child work through the physical symptoms of anxiety can also quiet the mind, helping them feel calmer and more comfortable even if they are still nervous.

 

Talking to your doctor about calming supplements, like CBD oil. More and more research finds that CBD — short for cannabidiol, one of the 104 chemical compounds in cannabis — can be a safe and effective method of treatment for anxiety in children. Two important side notes: CBD is not psychoactive, which means it will not impact you the same way as THC, so you don’t have to worry about your child “getting high.” And second, CBD oil doesn’t have a very palatable flavor, so if your doctor approves of trying it, look for supplements that have a tastier fruit flavor.

 

What expectations should I have — and what should I let go of?

 

As a parent, it is nearly impossible to not have some degree of expectation for your child — namely, you want them to live a happy, healthy life. And that is an expectation you should certainly use as your compass for making decisions when speech therapy is involved. When starting speech therapy sessions with your child, don’t expect:

 

To see change or major progress right away.

To have your child feel the same about going to each session.

 For vocabulary or comprehension to improve overnight.

 

While there are many expectations that parents of a child with ASD have to let go of, helping your child thrive in the world isn’t one of them. With speech therapy you can expect:

 

To see both setbacks and improvements — both of which are a sign of growth.

For your child to be pulled out for services but possibly also have speech therapy sessions directly in the classroom.

 

Speech therapy is about much more than forming words — it’s about being able to confidently — and maybe even, over time, comfortably — being able to communicate with those around you. For children with an ASD diagnosis, speech therapy can be the foundation for a successful future in school, work, relationships, and self-esteem.

 

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