Is Your Child On The Spectrum Or Sensory Sensitive? Understanding Speech Therapy

Health & Medical Blog

For kids with sensory processing or autism spectrum disorders, speech and communication can be a challenge. In fact, your child's pediatrician may recommend that you pursue speech therapy. If you're not familiar, speech therapy helps to develop skills in both direct communication and socialization, which are two key areas that kids with sensory processing and spectrum disorders struggle with. Here are a few things that can help you understand what to expect of the process.

Understanding Your Child's Most Likely Struggles

Sensory processing and autism spectrum disorders both can come with some inherent communication problems, but those struggles are unique for every child. That's why it's important to identify your child's specific needs.

Some kids have trouble articulating the things that they need or want. Other kids may struggle with following direction, especially when they are multiple steps. Some children struggle with limited vocabulary while others may speak with a highly advanced one.

Other common struggles include difficulty answering questions, robotic speech patterns and unusual pitch. For many kids with these conditions, they can have trouble identifying nonverbal communication like body language and expression, or they may have trouble separating their emotions from their thoughts.

Exploring The Assessment

Speech therapists start with a full assessment to determine the severity of any given problem. You'll be asked to fill out some worksheets as part of the pre-appointment data collection, and that is where you'll list the things you've identified as potential problems.

The therapist will then meet with you and your child to identify first-hand what your child's strengths and weaknesses are. This part of the assessment involves taking time to play with your child as well as potentially observing how your child plays with you and other children. For kids who are in school, the therapist might also assess their reading comprehension and writing ability.

Preparing For Therapy

After evaluation, the speech therapist will create a treatment plan. This may include things like role playing, repetition and positive reinforcement of skill development. You'll be asked to be an active participant in this, because you will have to maintain those tasks and therapy techniques at home for proper reinforcement. The goal is to help your child learn how to have a proper exchange in conversation, how to make eye contact with people during conversation and the proper techniques for social interaction.

If you have any reason to believe that your child has a speech delay or other communication problems due to a sensory condition or spectrum disorder, talk with his or her pediatrician or Alpert Zales & Castro Pediatric Cardiology about your concerns. You may find that speech therapy can help your child overcome those struggles.


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