The Effects of Speech Therapy on Behavior at Home, School, and in the Community


Children with autism not only have trouble communicating socially, but may also have problems behaving. The goal of speech therapy is to improve all aspects of communication. For example, sometimes children with autism have trouble understanding when it is acceptable to use bossy or polite requests. Speech therapy can help children to learn what sort of tone they should use when speaking.

Speech therapy sessions will vary greatly depending upon the therapist and the child. Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is one type of speech therapy that is used for children who do not imitate the sounds of others. For these children, several speech therapy methods may help them learn to speak. AAC is often the first strategy to help them learn enough communication to be able to have some social interactions. There are five other methods that may also help these children:

1) avoid pressuring children to speak, and using puppets and play as encouragement instead;

2) imitating the child and they may start imitating others;

3) using exaggerated sounds and speaking slowly;

4) using visual feedback and touch to help teach skills; and

5) adding exercises for mouth movements that are specific to speech.

Speech Therapy Improves Behavior

Many scientific studies demonstrate that Occupational Therapy Cleveland Tn is able to improve the communication skills of children with autism. In addition, many children also show improved behavior after speech and language therapy. A survey of the parents of 210 preschool children asked the parents about their expectations before speech and language therapy, and then asked about any improvements in their children after therapy. Parents said play, social skills, and confidence, as well as speech, improved after therapy. The child’s behaviors at home, in school, and in public were also better. While these improvements in behavior are not generally used by speech therapists to indicate success, they can be very meaningful to the child and parents.

Speech Therapists Enter the Community

Speech therapists can also be a wonderful resource for people offering services to children with autism. For example, Aprile Mickeys at Haircuts for Peanuts in Rochester, New York specializes in cutting the hair of children with special needs. Haircuts for Peanuts has always been a fun place for children (and even their older siblings), complete with a circus-theme and lots of toys. All of the stylists have been trained by speech and occupational therapists to work with children with autism and other special needs. Each of the hair cutting stations has toys especially for children with special needs and the stylists have learned techniques to calm children who might be anxious.

Learning More About Speech Therapy

Autism is a condition covered under the United States’ Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The cost of speech therapy is often covered by the government through this act.

Please visit Healing Thresholds to learn more about speech therapy and other autism therapies.

 Healing Thresholds Autism Therapy is a free website and email newsletter dedicated to healing the lives of families touched by autism. They provide comprehensive therapy fact sheets, daily updates of autism therapy research and news, and a global directory of autism-related therapists and services. A comprehensive fact sheet about speech therapy — plus research summaries, news, and comments — is available.

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