Autistic spectrum disorder

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What to expect

Autistic spectrum disorder

Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) is a disorder which affects a person's ability to communicate and relate to other people. It will also affect a person's ability to judge and understand what is happening in the world around them. ASD is a spectrum disorder and so people who are diagnosed with this, will be affected in different ways depending upon severity. It can affect relationships with family and friends and become difficult in the working environment. This is often caused by a lack of understanding of ASD and is because people who have ASD may be misunderstood or misinterpreted in what they are saying or doing socially.

Speech and language therapy will help to support individuals with ASD to communicate as effectively as possible. Speech and language therapy will focus on many aspects of communication and provide an individualised treatment plan for the individual's specific needs and abilities.

What is autistic spectrum disorder?

Autistic spectrum disorder is a disorder which has an effect on a person's communication and relation to other people. It can also effect judgement and understanding. People who have ASD will have three main areas of weakness, these are:

  • Social interaction
  • Social communication
  • Social imagination
  • Although individuals with ASD will experience difficulty in these areas, the extent at which will vary widely and depend upon each individual. As a result of this, some people are able to lead independent lives, whilst others will need specialist care or support.

    Some people may suffer from a sensitivity to sound, touch, taste or smell. People can either be over or under sensitive to these things and different ways of getting around a situation may be useful, for example, wearing lighter clothing or eating a more structured diet.

    Autism is the main disorder within the spectrum; however Aspergers Syndrome is also a disorder within the spectrum. Unlike Autism itself, language delay is not evident in someone who suffers from Aspergers Syndrome. There are many other forms of ASD and it is important to get a diagnosis in order to understand the extent of the disorder and whereabouts they fit along the spectrum, thus allowing a therapy plan to be tailored to each individual.

    What causes autistic spectrum disorder?

    The cause of ASD is not yet known exactly, however it is often the combination of both environmental and genetic factors which contribute to the change in the development in the brain. The individual suffering from this condition has no control over it and it is not caused by a difference in an individual's upbringing.

    What problems caused by autistic spectrum disorder can speech and language therapy help with?

    Speech and language therapy can help people with the problems associated with ASD and help people to work on the following:

  • attention and listening problems
  • comprehension problems
  • expressive language problems
  • speech sound problems
  • communication problems
  • Language delay and impairment
  • Social communication problems
  • How does speech and language therapy help autistic spectrum disorder?

    Speech and language therapy can be beneficial in helping individuals with ASD. Speech and language therapy will aim to maximise the potential of an individual's communication skills and can take many different forms, depending on the severity of each individual case. Different approaches may be used and will be useful in bridging the gap of a person's communication and different situations in their life.

    Benefits of speech and language therapy are:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Increased confidence and self-esteem
  • Improved speech
  • Improving coping strategies
  • Developing social skills
  • Increased social opportunities
  • What would speech and language therapy treatment for autistic spectrum disorder involve?

    Speech and language therapy for ASD will involve one or more of the following:

  • assessments
  • reports
  • one to one therapy
  • clinic visits
  • home visits
  • review
  • groups
  • training
  • consultative role
  • alternative and augmentative communication
  • advice and education
  • Specific treatments for individuals with ASD can include:

  • Social skills groups
  • Alternative and augmentative communication
  • Compensatory strategies
  • An initial assessment will be carried out by one of our speech and language therapists. This will highlight any worries and difficulties concerning communication and speech. It will also provide a chance for you to share any concerns you may have, and allow you to discuss what you would like to work on and improve in your treatment.

    How do I arrange a speech and language therapy assessment?

    To arrange a speech and language therapy assessment with one of our specialist speech and language therapists please email or call 0330 0885 643 and a member of our team will be happy to help.


    Autistic spectrum disorder is a lifelong condition which affects a person's social communication, interaction, and imagination. ASD can vary widely depending upon each individual. It can be extremely difficult for not only the individual with ASD, but his / her family and social network. It can affect whether an individual is able to work or not, however this will depend upon the severity and individuals support network. Speech and language therapy will aim to support an individual's ability to communicate, and maximise this to their full potential. To arrange a speech and language therapy appointment please email or call 0330 0885 643.

    Find out more about our treatments.

    Based on assessment findings each patient will be offered the most appropriate treatment plan to suit their specific needs. Treatment can be carried out in the home, school or clinic settings to accommodate the patient's specific needs and requirements. Appointments will also be flexible around the availability of the patient.

    Advice and support

    The speech and language therapist will give advice and support to the patient and their parents / carers on many aspects their treatment plan. The speech and language therapist may also work closely with other professionals involved in the patient's care to ensure the patient receives the best possible service.

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    Next steps

    To speak to a Speech and Language Therapist or to book an appointment, call us on 0161 883 0111 or email


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    All our speech and language therapists are registered with the RCSLT and the HCPC

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