What are Autism Spectrum Disorders?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer the following definition: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less. A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. These conditions are now all called autism spectrum disorder.
What communication challenges are associated with ASD?
Every child is unique and as such, the range communication challenges each person with ASD experiences is also unique. One child with Autism may not communicate verbally, while another may verbalize fluently but struggle with appropriate social language skills such as asking and answering appropriate questions, staying on topic, specificity, verbal elaboration, or maintaining eye contact.
The impact of experiencing ongoing difficulties in effectively communicating thoughts and emotions can lead to frustration, social isolation, tantrums and even despair. It’s important to seek professional assistance if you see your child struggling with speech or language issues, or if you know they have a medical/developmental condition such as ASD that is impacting his/her communication skills. A Speech-Language Pathologist can devise an intervention plan to improve or correct the problem.