Autism in Early Childhood
Speech and Language Disorders in Autism
Remember that photo of the mother pointing? The absence of pointing is one of the first signs caregivers report with children with Autism. You will hear parents say, "I thought something was wrong..."
When a baby points at something, he is trying to get you to see what he is seeing. He is thinking about you, and wanting you to see the same thing he is seeing.
Why do caregivers often argue that a child with Autism understands language more than the professional evaluation shows? The parent may be right. It also may be, though, that the child is responding not to the language but to visual cues. If you bring out the child's sippy cup, hold it up and say, "Do you want a drink of juice?" and the child comes over and takes the cup, it may not be that he recognized your words so much as that he saw the cup and recognized that.
Who can help: Speech Pathology
The most common service for people with speech and language impairments is speech therapy. This service should be provided by a speech pathologist. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of speech pathologists in Indian country, don't accept that as an excuse. No matter how understaffed your area is, they have a teacher in each classroom. No one would accept the excuse,
“There is a shortage of middle school math teachers so we are not having math this year.”
Children need to talk even more than they need to know math. If your children who need speech therapy are not receiving it then the community – teachers, parents and administrators – need to take steps to recruit a speech pathologist.
Julia Training Institute, 2111 7th St., Santa Monica, CA 90405 (310) 717-9089