Autism- How does Speech Pathology help?

How does Speech Pathology help?

There is common misconception that Speech Pathologists just work on speech and pronunciation. At Early Start Speech Pathology this is just the tip of the iceberg as to the clients we see and the areas that we work on.

Often parents come to us with a recommendation from their Psychologist or Paediatrician to see a Speech Pathologist, without really understanding why.

Speech Pathologist’s can help children on the Autism Spectrum in many ways. At Early Start Speech Pathology we think of communication holistically. We meet you and your child and figure out, with you, the most important goals and areas in your child’s life that need help and support and that can make a significant impact to their daily functioning.

As Autism is so varied, so are the ways in which we approach it at Early Start Speech Pathology. We do not use a “one size fits all” model. Each child and family situation is unique.  There is a saying, “if you’ve met one person with Autism Spectrum Disorder then you’ve met one person with Autism Spectrum Disorder”.


One of the diagnostic features of having a child on the Autism Spectrum is a language delay. Children can range from communicating non-verbally (pulling you over to things they want, pointing or gesturing and not using many if any words) to having significant language challenges both receptively (understanding and following instructions) and expressively (putting thoughts, feelings and requests into meaningful sentences). They can also have a mild delay receptively or expressively, or both. A mild delay can still have a significant impact to the child accessing the curriculum and communicating socially. A child with Autism can learn language differently. Often children with ASD can have better skills expressively than receptively. Children can repeat whole TV shows (which is known as echolalia) without having much or any meaning attached to the words. The Speech Pathologists are Early Start Speech Pathology will asses your child’s current language abilities and tailor a program to suit their needs to improve their expressive and receptive language skills.


The other diagnostic feature of ASD is to have a delay or difficulty in understanding and participating in the social world. Again this varies in severity, but all social challenges can have a significant impact to the overall well being of the child. At Early Start Speech Pathology we assess your child and figure where their social challenges are. A lot of social understanding and awareness involves language and body language. This is why a Speech Pathologist is one of the most qualified professionals to work on social skills. Communication is our thing. Have you ever tried to explain why someone might want not to play? It’s hard to break down social skills in a black and white manner when the world of social is anything but black and white. That’s where a Speech Pathologist can help. We break down the social world and social nuances and teach it according to your child’s language abilities.

AAC (Alternative and Augmentative Communication)

AAC is a broad term that relates to alternative ways to communicate. Things such as Key Word Signing, visuals and high tech speaking devices are all examples of AAC. At Early Start Speech Pathology our therapists are experienced in assessing and prescribing the right kind of AAC for your child. AAC can be used for child that can communicate verbally but have difficulty following instructions right through to children that are communicating non-verbally.


Sometimes our children with Autism start to communicate really effectively and start to participate socially but then come back to us when there is a delay in their literacy skills. Often this can be comprehension tasks and creative writing tasks. The team at Early Start Speech Pathology can help develop your child’s literacy, comprehension and writing skills. After all, literacy is another means for communication so it makes sense that a Speech Pathologist also works in this area.


All of the therapists at Early Start Speech Pathology are up to date with evidence based practice and always adhere to the latest research for all their therapeutic interventions.  We make sure that your child is always having fun first. We use your child’s interests and work closely with you to develop their communication and social skills.  We use a range of individual and group therapy situations and we can work in your home or your child’s school to maximise their participation in their natural environments. Early Start Speech Pathology’s therapist work closely with your child’s allied health and medical team too.