Speech and language pathologists are therapists who specialize in treating communication problems. These persons act as a portion of the team approach to the treatment of autism and other disabilities. A speech/language therapist first assesses a child as to specific communication abilities and then designs activities to either improve a child’s proficiency or finds alternative systems for speech/language production(Brennan, 2015).
Communication can be of two types, receptive and expressive. Speech/ language can be subdivided into four aspects: (a) phonology which concerns the sounds of letters; (b) syntax which deals with sentence structure; (c) semantics which concerns the meaning of words; and (d) pragmatics which deals with the functional use of language in context. All these areas will be addressed by speech therapists at Mason’s Place Too.
The specific communication problems associated with autism and other disabilities can be: (a) muteness; (b) talking in a sing-song pattern; (c) using a monotonous speech pattern; (d) repeating of words and phrases • Is spoken by themselves or others; (e) not comprehending what is communicated via speech or body movements; and (f) not engaging in conversation (Layton, 1987). These deficits can be remediated by speech/language therapists. Muteness has been overcome by intense behavior modification and the expansion of a child’s initial sounds. The sing-song aspect can be faded out by modeling correct intonation. A monotonous voice can be improved by using different pitch and stress. Echolalia is often indicative of non-comprehension and can be either immediate or delayed. It can function as affirmation, turn-taking, or self-regulation. Its proper function should be recognized and then proper speech patterns or words substituted for it. (Prizant, 1987). Comprehension of language can be furthered by others speaking very concretely and with visual input so the message is succinct (Vermeulen, 2013).
Engaging in conversation can improve through the child being aware of when it is his/her turn and rehearsing specific subject matter. If a child does not speak but develops language skills, he/she may use various alternate systems such as sign language or augmentative systems which may rely on typing or even artificial voice production. A very common practice is for children with autism and other disabilities to use the Picture Exchange Communication System in which pictures stand for a child’s (Overcash, Horton, & Bondy, 2010). thoughts that are shared with another person. The speech/language therapists at Mason’s Place Too will assess and remediate the communication dysfunctions of children with autism and other disabilities. This will be done in a functional, humane, and cooperative manner.