What is the Connection Between Autism and Speech?

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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 13 October 2018
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There is a direct connection between autism and speech. It is estimated that a vast majority of toddlers with autistic behavior patterns will not learn to speak by the typical age of 12-15 months. Some autistic children may have delayed speech, while others may not form words but simply make sounds. Children with mild autism or autism spectrum disorders such as Asperger's Syndrome, may need speech therapy and vocalization techniques. Other individuals with autism may be extremely vocal and have a broad range of language, but extreme difficulty communicating.

Childhood autism symptoms will often manifest in non-verbal behavior and non-communication. With autistic children or young adults, some form of speech therapy will be the typical course of action. This is because in most cases of autism the individual will lack social and communication skills. Many autistic children or adults will form their own individualized 'language,' which may or may not coincide with traditional language. Speech delay can be a direct result.

Individuals with autism may not always be able to grasp the concepts and basic principles of proper language skills. For those who are non-vocal, the autism and speech aspect may require intensive therapy to achieve what is known as a breakthrough in development. Trained counselors and therapists can work with the individual to improve social skills connected with speech pattern.


Depending upon the types of autism the therapist is treating, the student will receive training on proper pronunciation, as well as other techniques for communication. In this form of speech therapy, the autistic individual will also be taught how and when to address other people in a correct and acceptable manner. Therefore, communication and social skills will be directly incorporated into speech lessons.

Understanding that autism is a very complex disorder that affects individuals in different ways is essential to bringing about awareness. For example, while many children who suffer from autism do not form sentences in a conventional manner, others can be extremely vocal and lucid. In some cases, vocalization may seemingly be constant and repetitious. This means the variations to speech patterns in autistic individuals can vary greatly.

Many children with autism may use speech and language, although they don't understand how to use them properly. Although he may have speech comprehension and capabilities, the autistic child may prefer to communicate his basic needs through gestures or pictures rather than words. Working with the child to overcome autism and speech comprehension typically can involve years of therapy.



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