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Can Speech Delay Mimic Autism

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How Is Autism Spectrum Disorder Treated

Language delay or autism?

The earlier treatment for kids with ASD starts, the better. Depending on a child’s needs, treatment may include behavior therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, medicine, and extra help with learning. The goal is to help kids:

  • communicate better
  • be safe and take care of their bodies

Before Age 3

Before age 3, kids might be eligible for services through their state’s early intervention program. Families work with a team of experts on an Individualized Family Service Plan . This plan outlines goals and comes up with a treatment plan.

A team of therapists provides therapy at home or in daycare to eligible families.

Services may also be available in hospital-based clinics or in community centers. Insurance companies may reimburse for many services.

After Age 3

Kids ages 3 to 5 years old with ASD who qualify are entitled to free preschool services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act . Therapy and/or extra learning help is offered through local school districts or other learning centers either at home or in a classroom.

When kids reach kindergarten age, parents can ask to switch to an individualized education program through the local school district. An IEP can include learning goals along with behavioral, social, and self-care goals. Special education services are available until a child’s 21st birthday.

Sometimes medicines are used to treat symptoms like aggression, hyperactivity and inattention, anxiety, depression, and sleep problems.

Tip Six: Consider Voice Devices Or Visual Supports

In many special needs classes, I’ve taught where nonverbal kids have not yet found their voice, they depend on technological tablets. Some teachers refer to these as that child’s “voice.” When there is a struggle, the teacher or parent points to the device and directs the child to “use voice.” These help the child communicate through pictures and audible readings of words and phrases. 

These devices and apps are accessed through touch and can help your child develop and practice verbalization of words. 

Your child’s therapists are uniquely qualified to help you select and use these and other strategies to develop language skills. By working with your child’s ABA Therapy team, you can help provide the support your child needs to find their “voice.”

“Whatever a child’s communicative level is, it is important to know that ABA can help an individual share their voice,’ even if that is in a non-spoken form,” says Brian Kaminski, MA, BCBA.

While ABA can certainly emphasize strengthening vocal’ communication, it can also help shape alternative forms of communication like sign language, augmentative communication devices, or a Picture Exchange Communication System, often referred to as PECS.

All of these forms of communication will help ensure a child’s needs are being met, they have greater independence, and improved the overall quality of life.”

How Autistic Speech Delays Differ

As typical babies develop, they quickly learn that communication is the key to getting what they want. Long before they learn to use spoken language, little ones make eye contact, pull on sleeves, babble, point, and otherwise work hard to get their point across to adults and older children.

Over time, typical children learn to use spoken language because they get positive results from doing so. In addition, typical children:

  • Are highly motivated by social responses such as smiles and hugs
  • Are naturally inclined to imitate that actions of people around them
  • Are likely to spend much more time observing people than observing things
  • Tend to be social beings who become quickly bored or lonely when left alone

Children with autism, however, have social communication challenges that stand in the way of any kind of meaningful social connection. While children with high functioning autism may be much more socially inclined than those with more severe autism, the same issues hold true across the spectrum.

Thus, for example, a child with autism:

  • Maybe more motivated by his or her own interests than by social responses
  • May rarely or never imitate others’ actions
  • Be more interested in things than in people
  • Be content when left alone to pursue their own interests

All of these differences lead to different behaviors, desires, and outcomes.

How Can I Tell If My Child Has A Language Problem Or Is Just Late

It can be difficult for a parent to tell whether a child is a late bloomer or has hearing loss, an expressive language disorder or other underlying cause of speech delay. A trained specialist will be able to help you determine if your child is experiencing speech or language delays. The earlier your child gets help, the greater their progress will be. And if they turn out to be a late bloomer, the extra attention to their speech will not have hurt in any way.

She Doesn’t Use Gestures

Q&A: How to recognize signs of autism from speech delay ...

Even if it isn’t time for your child to be talking or babbling, there could be signs something is going on. According to Dr. Soorya, language isn’t the only way children communicate. “There are subtle things kids do to communicate from an early age,” she said. “They use gestures like putting their hand out, waving, blowing a kiss.” Dr. Soorya said gestures like these happen early, starting typically just before 12 months, and explode from there. “If they’re not using speech, kids without autism are using other ways of communicating with their body language,” she said, adding that “if the kid is not connecting well and they’re also not speaking, if they’re not communicating with body language” you may want to talk to their doctor.

Speech Delay Signs And Symptoms

A speech and language delay is when a child isnt developing speech and language at an expected rate. It is a common developmental problem that affects as many as 10% of preschool children. Your child may have a speech delay if he or she isnt able to do these things:

  • Says simple words either clearly or unclearly by 12 to 15 months of age
  • Isnt using gestures, such as pointing or waving bye-bye by 12 months of age,
  • Prefers gestures over vocalizations to communicate,
  • Has trouble imitating sounds by 18 monthsof age,
  • Understands simple words by 18 months of age,
  • Has trouble understanding simple verbal requests.
  • Can only imitate speech or actions and doesnt produce words or phrases spontaneously by 2 years of age,
  • Says only some sounds or words repeatedly and cant use oral language to communicate more than their immediate needs by 2 years of age,
  • Cant follow simple directions by 2 years of age,
  • Has an unusual tone of voice by 2 years of age,
  • Talks in short sentences by 3 years of age,
  • Can tell a simple story at 4 to 5 years of age.

Remember, early intervention with both conditions will result in your child having a better chance at having speech that meets his/her developmental milestones. Children with autism especially need the help of a professional so their language skills allow them to communicate more effectively with more neurotypical kids.

Are Siblings At Greater Risk For Autism Spectrum Disorder

The truth is that genetics do play a role in autism. When one child is diagnosed with ASD, the next child to come along has about a 20% greater risk of developing autism than normal. When the first two children in a family have both been diagnosed with ASD, the third child has about a 32% greater risk of developing ASD.

Speech Delay Vs Autism: Understanding And Recognizing The Difference

June 24, 2021

Youve noticed that your child isnt speaking as fluently as other kids his/her own age. Maybe he/she hasnt even said their first words. Could this delay in their speech development be a sign of autism spectrum disorder ? Not necessarily.

While speech delayslanguage delays, and learning differences are often a hallmark of ASD, a speech delay by itself does not mean a child has autism. In fact, there are key differences between communication delays caused by autism and other types of speech-language disorders.

Transition To Part B Of Idea

Help child imitate communicate single word critical for forming sentence (Speech Delay, Autism,ADHD)

When a child reaches the age of 3 years, they transition from preschool to school-based services, in accordance with Part B of IDEA. At this point, an individualized education program is developed. See ASHAs Practice Portal page on Early Intervention for details. See also ASHAs resources titled IDEA Part C Issue Brief: Transitions  and IDEA Part B Issue Brief: Individualized Education Programs and Eligibility for Services.

One of the goals of IDEA is to ensure a seamless transition process for families moving from one program to another as well as timely access to appropriate services. It is stipulated that there be a transition plan that includes participation by representatives from each program, as well as family members.

The SLP can have different roles during this transition period. When the SLP functions as the IFSP service coordinator, they directly oversee transition activities. As such, they need to be knowledgeable about a wide range of resources in the community. When the SLP functions as a member of the IFSP team, they assist the family and other team members by helping make the transition process as smooth and positive as possible.

Summary Of Autism Vs Speech Delay

  • Autism is a developmental disorder characterized by troubles with communication and social interaction, repetitive behavior, and behavioral restrictions.
  • Speech delay is a delay in the use or the development of the mechanisms, producing speech. 
  • Children with autism have a violation of the social interactions and are not able to manage their social contacts through a verbal or a non-verbal behavior. Children with speech delay are able to communicate through non-verbal behavior; they establish relationships and show interest in peers and friendship.
  • Children with autism have equal difficulties in producing and understanding speech, while children with speech delay have difficulties in producing speech, but are able to understand it.
  • Children with speech delay compensate lack of speech through non-verbal behavior, while the children with autism dont compensate it.
  • Typical for the children with autism are the recurring, stereotypical, unusual actions or narrowly restricted special interests, stereotypical and repetitive movements, unusual interest in aspects of the senses. Children with speech delay do not show other atypical behavior.
  • Children with autism have sleep problems, neurological problems, stereotypical, repetitive, peculiar expressions and behavior, gastrointestinal problems, longer toe-walking. Speech delay does not necessarily correlate with other problems. 

Treatment For Speech And Language Delays

It is important to identify speech/language problems early, so your child can begin treatment. Treatment should begin as soon as possible. Research shows that children know a lot about language long before the first word is ever said.  If your child needs treatment, it should be developmentally appropriate and individualized. Your childs treatment team might include a doctor, an audiologist, a speech-language pathologist, an occupational therapist, and/or a social worker.

Treating The Underlying Condition

When speech delay is connected to an underlying condition, or occurs with a coexisting disorder, its important to also address those issues. This may include:

Here are some ways you can encourage your toddlers speech:

  • Talk directly to your toddler, even if just to narrate what youre doing.
  • Use gestures and point to objects as you say the corresponding words. You can do this with body parts, people, toys, colors, or things you see on a walk around the block.
  • Read to your toddler. Talk about the pictures as you go.
  • Sing simple songs that are easy to repeat.
  • Give your full attention when talking to them. Be patient when your toddler tries to talk to you.
  • When someone asks them a question, dont answer for them.
  • Even if you anticipate their needs, give them a chance to say it themselves.
  • Repeat the words correctly rather than directly criticizing errors.
  • Let your toddler interact with children who have good language skills.
  • Ask questions and give choices, allowing plenty of time for response.

Why Monitoring Developmental Milestones For Autism Can Be Misleading

Autism speech delay what are the signs of speech delay

Sometimes, children with autism miss multiple milestones and have clear and obvious developmental delays. Often, however, missed milestones can be masked or even invisible. This is because children with autism aren’t simply delayed; they learn and behave differently from their typical peers.

In addition, autism is rarely obvious from birth. Many children with autism develop normally for a period of time and then either slow down, develop idiosyncratically, or actually regress. Because of these issues, it can be tough to spot autism just by watching for missed developmental milestones.

What Is A Speech Delay In A Toddler

Speech and language skills begin with the cooing of an infant. As the months pass, seemingly meaningless babbling progresses into the first understandable word.

A speech delay is when a toddler hasnt met typical speech milestones. Children progress on their own timeline. Being a little late with conversation doesnt necessarily mean theres a serious problem.

What To Do If Your Child Has A Speech Delay

Speech Therapy is Another Great Option to Help Toddlers with Speech Delays. If your child is not responding to your attempts, or needs a bit more direction to help their speech than you can provide, consider signing them up for speech therapy. This allows your toddler to work on different activities that are designed to be played like games.

What Are The Differences Between Speech Delay And Autism

When autism is the cause of speech delay, the young child has significant developmental delays and impairments related to communication and social interaction. The most important difference between speech delays caused by autism versus another medical condition is the presence of other autism symptoms.

Out Of Context Mimicry And Repetitiveness In Autism

Differences b/w autism and speech delay|speech delay journey

Current evidence suggests that children with autism are able to understand and emulate goal directed actions, but may have specific impairments in automatic mimicry of actions without goals. Although autism and specific language impairment are two distinct problems with different etiologies, they both occur at some level. Autism is often associated with impairments of communication, which includes out of context mimicry and repetitiveness.

One of the ways through which autism is characterized is abnormal imitation. Several theoretical models have been proposed for such behaviors, one of which states that a delay in the development may account for many of the social and communication deficiencies seen in children with autism .

The broken mirror hypothesis states that children diagnosed with autism have problems in the mirror neuron system, which is the main cause of their social disability .

The mirror neuron system is part of the human brain that carries important functions. It is part of the motor system that helps to control how people act. Problems in the MNS lead to both verbal and visual problems. The mirror neuron system also has important social function and imitation tasks have been shown to activate it.

These children find it difficult to control when to mimic and when not to. In some instances, they fail to mimic at all while others mimic excessively, such as in echopraxia or echolalia.

Identify Warning Signs In Play And Imitation As Well

So in addition to looking at pointing and language, I also want to look for things like playing. Does the child play with some toys, more than just one toy? Or is he super focused on one object, or needs to carry it around all the time? Or plays with things over and over again, like stacking blocks, not just for a couple of minutes while you do something quickly, but like hours and hours, they can be content not using language, but like spinning things or lining things up. These are all red flags for autism.

And finally, a child of 18 months or two years old, should be naturally starting to imitate some things, like waving or making an airplane fly. So, its not just if theyre talking or not, we also really need to look at things like play, imitation, and whether or not the child understands language. If he doesnt have any imitation play, and he doesnt understand language, it may be more than a speech delay.

Evaluation And Management Of The Child With Speech Delay

ALEXANDER K.C. LEUNG, M.B.B.S., Alberta Children’s Hospital and University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

C. PION KAO, M.D., Alberta Children’s Hospital, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Am Fam Physician. 1999 Jun 1;59:3121-3128.

 See related patient information handout on the child with speech delay, written by the authors of this article.

A delay in speech development may be a symptom of many disorders, including mental retardation, hearing loss, an expressive language disorder, psychosocial deprivation, autism, elective mutism, receptive aphasia and cerebral palsy. Speech delay may be secondary to maturation delay or bilingualism. Being familiar with the factors to look for when taking the history and performing the physical examination allows physicians to make a prompt diagnosis. Timely detection and early intervention may mitigate the emotional, social and cognitive deficits of this disability and improve the outcome.

Speech is the motor act of communicating by articulating verbal expression, whereas language is the knowledge of a symbol system used for interpersonal communication. In general, a child is considered to have speech delay if the child’s speech development is significantly below the norm for children of the same age. A child with speech delay has speech development that is typical of a normally developing child of a younger chronologic age; the speech-delayed child’s skills are acquired in a normal sequence, but at a slower-than-normal rate.

Tips For Supporting Your Childs Speech And Language Development

  • Start talking to your child at birth. Even newborns benefit from hearing speech.
  • Respond to your babys coos and babbling.
  • Play simple games with your baby like peek-a-boo and patty-cake.
  • Talk to your child a lot. Tell them what you are doing as you do it.
  • Read books aloud. Ask a librarian for books appropriate to your childs age. If your baby loses interest in the text, just talk about the pictures.
  • Sing to your child and provide them with music. Learning new songs helps your child learn new words, and uses memory skills, listening skills, and expression of ideas with words.
  • Use gestures along with words.
  • Dont try to force your child to speak.
  • Expand on what your child says.
  • Describe for your child what they are doing, feeling and hearing in the course of the day.
  • Listen to your child. Look at them when they talk to you. Give them time to respond. .
  • Encourage storytelling and sharing information.
  • Play with your child one-on-one, and talk about the toys and games you are playing.
  • Plan family trips and outings. Your new experiences give you something interesting to talk about before, during, and after the outing.
  • Look at family photos and talk about them.
  • Ask your child lots of questions.
  • Dont criticize grammar mistakes. Instead, just model good grammar.
  • Follow your childs lead, so you are doing activities that hold their interest as you talk.
  • Have your child play with kids whose language is a little better than theirs.

The Path To Diagnosis: Autism Screenings School And Specialists

5 ways you can help your child with a speech delay ...

Parents and caregivers will notice their childs symptoms at different times. Some parents will notice symptoms before the childs first birthday and can receive a reliable, valid, and stable diagnosis by age two, but most children are not diagnosed with ASD until after four years. The Autism Science Foundation has curated a list of common early signs of an ASD in infants and children that are usually indicators that your child may need to be evaluated.

As early as six to 18 months you might notice that your baby fixates on objects or does not respond to peopleOlder babies and toddlers may fail to respond to their names, avoid eye contact, lack joint attention , or engage in repetitive movements such as rocking or arm flapping. They may play with toys in unusual ways, like lining them up or focusing on parts of toys rather than the whole.

Screenings for autism are typically done at 18 and 24-month check-ups, but if you notice signs of autism in your child sooner, do not hesitate to contact your childs pediatrician. Developmental screenings are available at 9, 18, 24, and 30 months of age, but screenings specific to your concerns and your childs needs can be conducted at any time.

Symptoms Of Autism In Early Childhood

Autism spectrum disorders are characterized by a wide range of symptoms that also vary in their degree of severity. In young children, or toddlers, the child may have trouble maintaining eye contact, avoid interactions with other children or not display any interest in other children, avoid physical contact, displays repetitive behaviors such as flapping, rocking or spinning, is obsessive in their interests, has sensitivity to certain stimuli, food aversions, irregular sleep patterns, and is unable to be soothed or comforted. Autism looks different in every child and some children may display only one or two symptoms while others have a far greater number. In addition, because some of the less specific symptoms such as hyperactivity and impulsivity are still considered age appropriate behaviors in young children; it can be difficult to determine whether these are attributed to a condition such as autism or just immaturity.

Does The Child Understand At Least Some Language

Speech delays can fall under three categories: an expressive delay , a receptive delay , or a mixed receptive-expressive delay, which includes both.

Having both a receptive delay and an expressive delay doesnt mean that the child has autism, Dr. Barbera emphasizes, but it is an indicator that they could.

How Common Are Speech Delays

Most children learn to talk just as they learn to walk: one small step at a time. They begin by babbling, and they build on that skill by learning one meaningful word at a time. In time, they develop an extensive vocabulary of words they can string together.

Children with autism rarely follow this pattern, and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association says about 75% of them have some type of delayed speech. On average, ASHA says, they talk one to two years later than other children.

While autism causes some speech delays, it doesn’t cause all of them. Experts explain that children can develop these issues due to:

  • Hearing loss. Children who can’t hear their parents model language don’t develop the skills themselves.
  • Deprivation. The child doesn’t spend enough time talking with adults, so the child doesn’t learn the language.
  • Choice. Children with selective mutism don’t speak, even without a medical reason for it. 
  • Disease. Children with some movement disorders or intellectual disabilities may struggle to speak.
  • Bilingual homes. Children in homes like this must understand two languages at once, and it can take longer for them to pick up the nuances of both.

In general, ASHA says, parents grow worried when their children don’t speak . Some parents may develop concerns even earlier in the child’s life.

He Doesn’t Look At You

Is it speech delay or Autism | Early Autism Signs in Toddlers

This doesn’t mean that your child has never looked at you or other people, but that they tend to not look directly at you or it’s hard to get them to look at you when you call their name or are trying to get their attention. According to Dr. Soorya, this is another example of how children with autism struggle with communication and sharing their world with other people. 

Researchers for a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry looked at how often children at higher risk for autism looked at faces compared to those at lower risk of autism. They found that at six months there weren’t many differences, but by 12 months, the children at higher risk of autism showed much less frequent gaze to faces. This is why it’s important to notice not only things your child has always done over the course of their development, but to note any changes in how they react, respond, or interact with you.

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