As a parent, you’re constantly worried about doing right by your child. You want to give them every possible advantage so they will succeed in life. So if they start to show signs of neurodiversity, such as a condition such as autism spectrum disorder, you might worry about what it means for their future. Luckily, seeking treatments like autism spectrum disorder speech therapy at an early age can help ensure they learn the skills they will need to thrive as they grow older. Today we’ll take a closer look at autism spectrum disorder. We’ll explore what it is, common signs to look for in your child, and how a Washington DC pediatric speech therapist can help. Keep reading to find out more. What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder? Autism spectrum disorder is a neurodevelopmental condition. That means it’s a condition related to the way the brain develops. Its most commonly associated with issues related to communication and social interactions. There is currently no known cure for autism spectrum disorder. Because it’s related to how the brain develops, it’s unlikely there ever will be. However, with proper treatment, autistic people can still live happy, fulfilling lives. Are You Born With Autism Or Develop It? Autism is something you’re born with. You might not discover that you’re autistic until later in life. But from what we understand, it’s not something that develops later – either you’ll always be autistic, or you’ll never be. Autism Spectrum Disorder Causes There is currently no known single cause of autism spectrum disorder. But we do know there are some factors which are thought to increase the risk of it. Some of these include: \tHaving an autistic sibling \tFragile X syndrome \tTuberous sclerosis \tRett syndrome \tGenetic factors \tEnvironmental factors \tBeing born premature As well, certain things can increase the chances of your having an autistic baby. These include: \tBeing older during pregnancy \tTaking thalidomide while pregnant \tTaking valproic acid while pregnant People who are transgender are also more likely to be autistic. a 2015 study by Van Der Miesen, Hurley, and De Vries found that 20% of transgender people who sought treatment for their gender dysphoria also showed signs of autism. Compare that with about 1% of the general population. Babies assigned male at birth also tend to be diagnosed as autistic more often, but we’re not sure why that’s the case. One theory is that the symptoms of autism tend to be more obvious in babies assigned male at birth. Do Vaccines Cause Autism? The theory that vaccines cause autism was proposed by Dr. Andrew Wakefield back in the 1990’s. Since then it has been shown to be deeply flawed and based on bad science. There is absolutely no credible evidence to support claims that vaccines can cause, or increase the likelihood of, autism spectrum disorder. How Does Autism Affect Speech And Language? There are many common traits and symptoms in autistic people. But every autistic person is unique. Even more so than many disorders, it’s difficult to predict how autism will manifest in one person to the next. With this in mind, in this section, we are going to look at some of the ways autism may present and affect speech and language. Social Communication Issues People with autism spectrum disorder may experience some or all of the following issues related to social communication: \tHas trouble keeping eye contact \tTrouble using and interpreting non verbal gestures \tIssues with making and keeping friends \tTaking abstract ideas literally \tUnable to share their interests with others Language Impairments \tStilted speech or not speaking at all \tEcholalia - repetition of someone else's speech \tLoss of words which have already been learned \tDelay in acquiring social words such as names \tInability to form words \tTrouble understanding idioms, sarcasm, and figurative language Behavioral And Emotional Issues \tDepression related to challenges socializing or making friends \tAnxiety and social withdrawal \tDifficultly taking things they’ve learned and generalizing it to other situations \tIssues with sleep \tUnable to regulate their emotions \tTrouble interpreting others emotions Sensory Issues \tVery particular food preferences, often related to texture \tNot eating as varied a diet as others \tEasily overstimulated by environmental factors such as lights, sounds, and visual clutter \tPreferring nonsocial interactions and stimuli Is It Possible To Outgrow Autism? From what we can tell, that doesn’t seem to be possible. Autism symptoms will last for one’s entire life. Some adults, however, learn techniques known in the autistic community as “masking”. This is where an autistic person hides their autism in social situations in order to appear like an allistic person. Allistic means somebody who is not autistic. But masking is a learned behavior. It doesn’t mean a person who masks is not autistic. Is Autism Linked To Other Health Conditions? If you or your child is autistic, you’re at greater risk of other health conditions. These include: \tADHD \tFeeding and swallowing disorders \tExpressive and receptive language disorders \tDown syndrome \tBipolar disorder \tSleep disorders \tAnd more How Can A Speech Therapist Help With Autism Spectrum Disorder? Speech therapy for autism spectrum disorder can help people learn skills and strategies to help with communication. This can help them to be better understood by others. It can also help them better understand what others are communicating. It can also help individuals to learn to use their strengths and improve areas of weakness. Many of these can be applied by a speech therapist, and some of the ways they can help include: \tUsing Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) strategies to enhance communication - these can include pictures, drawings, gestures, and devices to help with speech \tVisual cues and supports to demonstrate schedules and help with sequences of activities \tComputer programs to help teach social skills and vocabulary \tLearning to participate in conversations \tHelping them become better communicators Of course, every child is different, and your individual speech therapist will always seek to create a personalized plan which will be best suited for your child’s needs. Early intervention speech therapy is important for autistic children. This is because speech therapy for children tends to be more effective when started early. However, autism isn’t always diagnosed as a child. If you’re an adult who’s recently discovered you’re autistic, adult speech therapy can help you as well. Book Your Appointment With Voz Speech Therapy Today Does your child have difficulty communicating with other kids their age? Would they rather spend time focused on a book or project than playing and interacting with other children? Do they seem to have a hard time regulating their emotions, are more prone to temper tantrums, or seem to be overly sensitive? Or maybe they are a really picky eater, showing preferences for certain types and textures of foods. These all could be signs of autism spectrum disorder. If that’s the case, we’re Voz Speech Therapy and we’re here to help. Serving the Washington DC area, we can help with a speech therapy screening for ASD, assessment of your child’s abilities, and creation of a treatment plan which is as unique as your child. Book your appointment with Voz Speech Therapy today and take the first step towards getting the help you need so your child can live a more fulfilling life. Book your appointment with Voz Speech Therapy today.