Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

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What to expect

Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) is a disorder which affects a childs ability to communicate and relate to others around them. It is a developmental disorder and is usually diagnosed in early childhood. Speech and language therapy helps to support a child with ASD by helping them to communicate to their highest potential.

What is Autistic Spectrum Disorder?

Autistic spectrum disorder is a lifelong disability. Autistic spectrum disorder affects many aspects of a childs communication including how the child relates to others and their ability to understand the world around them.

By definition autistic spectrum disorder will affect three areas of development which are known as a triad of impairments. This triad of impairments include:

A spectrum disorder means that although certain difficulties are present in all children with autistic spectrum disorder, the degree of these difficulties can vary greatly with each child.

The severity of the disorder can vary e.g. some children may be able to speak whilst others may not. Children with ASD may present with some of the following difficulties:

  • Difficulties in socialising and interacting with others
  • Difficulties in understanding social cues e.g. tone of voice and facial expression.
  • Have limited interests or activities.
  • Difficulty in engaging in imaginative play.

A child with Autistic Spectrum Disorder may find change of routine hard, and also find it difficult to generalise and apply information learned to other situations.

Some children with autistic spectrum disorder may be able to lead a relatively independent life. However, others with autistic spectrum disorder may have additional learning difficulties and require lifelong support.

What causes autistic spectrum disorder?

There is no known cause of autistic spectrum disorder; it is usually caused by a combination of factors including genetics, brain development and environmental factors.

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

Speech and language therapy can help with any of the following difficulties which may be caused by autistic spectrum disorder:

  • Attention and listening problems
  • Receptive language problems
  • Expressive language problems
  • speech sound problems
  • Communication problems
  • Eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties
  • Language delay and impairment
  • Social communication problems

How is autistic spectrum disorder diagnosed?

Autistic spectrum disorder is usually diagnosed in early childhood and involves the input of many medical professionals including the speech and language therapist. Assessment carried out by the speech and language therapist will help to contribute to a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder. Assessment carried out by the speech and language therapist will include:

  • A discussion about your kids speech and language skills and any concerns you may have.
  • Gathering information on your childs development.
  • An observation of your childs speech, language and play skills.
  • A detailed assessment of your childs communication skills including interaction, play, expressive and receptive communication.

How does speech and language therapy help a child with autistic spectrum disorder?

Although there is no cure for autistic spectrum disorder, it has been proven that early intervention works and can have positive outcomes for a child with autistic spectrum disorder. Speech and language therapy can help to improve many aspects of communication. Speech and language therapy may focus on improving your childs social skills and interaction with others, non-verbal communication (eye contact, facial expression and gesture) and expressive and receptive communication. For some individuals with more severe autistic spectrum disorder, the speech and language therapist may introduce and work on alternative and augmentative communication e.g. picture exchange communication system. Speech and language therapy varies greatly for each individual child and will be tailored specifically to their needs and abilities.

What would speech and language therapy treatment for a child with autistic spectrum disorder involve?

An initial assessment will be carried out by a speech and language therapist. This assessment will help to determine what the best treatment option for your kids specific needs will be. Treatment after this point may include some or all of the following:

You will also be given the opportunity to discuss any concerns you may have, also any specific things you would like to be improved on in therapy regarding your childs communication.

How do I arrange a speech and language therapy assessment for autistic spectrum disorder?

Please call 0330 0885 643 to arrange a speech and language therapy appointment for your child.


Autistic spectrum disorder is a lifelong disorder and can affect many aspects of a childs communication. A child with autistic spectrum disorder may present with mild to severe difficulties, this varies with each individual child. Speech and language therapy aims to improve on communication difficulties. If you feel you and your child may benefit from any of the above services then please do not hesitate to contact us by emailing or call 0330 0885 643.

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