By Ms. Ashly Joseph (Speech & Language Pathologist) with Team Autism Connect Association
I remember Manu, a seven-year old boy diagnosed with autism. I could read out the struggle that the parents had within them about the child. I asked the mother to give a summary about the communication level of the child.
“My son utters only few words say about 3-4 not more than that. These words that he speaks lacks clarity. Even the small commands that we give also cannot be followed by him and keeps on engaging with his activities.”
I started to observe the child through various activities that I engaged him with. I gave different kinds of flash cards, picture books and models to assess his receptive-expressive language skill and found out that the child’s comprehension level is poor.
When the expressive language skill was analyzed, it was found that the child had problem regarding clarity in speech. Due to the non functioning of articulators (movement of tongue, lips and jaw) in the proper order, speech intelligibility had decreased.
The evaluation of the social-pragmatic and cognitive communication skill showed that the child lacked these skill.
After explaining in detail about the r eason for the child’s ineffectiveness to the parents, I started to give them the tips and techniques to improve speech language and communication skill.
- To improve Receptive Communication Skill, the child has to be made familiar with one or two word command, identifying commonly used nouns (objects, fruits, vegetables, animals, colour, shapes, etc..), prepositions and simple adjectives (good, bad, beautiful, dirty, etc..) through visual auditory tactile stimulation. This helps the child to understand these concepts faster.
- To improve Expressive Language Skill, encourage your child to vocalize maximally. Once the child starts to vocalize any syllable help him to use those syllables to communicate. The next stage is to combine two syllables like /mama/, /papa/ and saying it aloud every time he sees you (mother/father). Initially encourage all kind of verbal production, after that make the child to shift towards meaningful word.
- To improve Speech Clarity, Oral Motor exercise should be given to ensure the proper functioning of articulators i.e. movement of tongue, lips and jaw. Encourage the child to imitate the proper movements as illustrated.
- To improve Social-Pragmatic Skill the child should be taught to greet, to request and to interact with friends, relatives and elders.