“Autism is a developmental disability that causes problems with social skills and communication. Autism can be mild or severe. It is different for every person. Autism is also known as autism spectrum disorders.” (ASHA). Autism is considered to be part of a group of disorders (Autism Spectrum Disorders). These disorders have similar characteristics but differing severity levels and unique presentations.
What are the characteristics of Autism?
Autism is characterized by deficits in three main areas:
Receptive and expressive communication
Pragmatic language and social interactions
Restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behaviors
How is Autism Diagnosed?
Autism is typically diagnosed by a team of professionals including pediatricians, psychologists, developmental specialists, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists. A speech-language pathologist is a very important part of the diagnostic team given the inherent deficits in receptive and expressive communication and social skills.
HOW DO WE TREAT AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS ACROSS THE AGE SPAN?
The Center for Speech and Language Pathology treats people of all ages with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Treatment approaches and goals vary based on the age of the person. For young children, we follow Stanley Greenspan’s Floortime approach to treatment. Using this model of treatment, clinicians follow the child’s lead while developing engagement and communicative interactions in a highly naturalistic and play-based manner. For older children and adults, a more structured language-based and skill-based approach is implemented.
What are the goals for treatment?
Joint attention and engagement
Eye contact and social reciprocity
Use of language during moments of heightened anxiety and frustration
Development of pretend play skills
Theory of mind
Initiating social interactions
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
Functional social routines
Activities of daily living