Diagnosing ASD requires interdisciplinary collaboration and the active involvement of the family. A speech-language pathologist (SLP) plays a key role during the assessment, together with a pediatrician, pediatric neurologist, and a developmental pediatrician. During the evaluation, the following must be identified before a diagnosis can be made:
During the evaluation process, the role of an SLP centres on observing and taking note of the child’s spoken and written language skills (when appropriate) and social communication. A speech-language pathologist then conducts a comprehensive speech-language assessment that includes speech and language skills testing, feeding and swallowing, and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).
As a neurodevelopmental disorder, ASD is a lifelong condition with no known cure. But like many other disorders, an early and accurate diagnosis can make a significant difference in addressing the condition. Recognizing the disorder early on can help families access appropriate resources, such as special education services and learning programs. Early diagnosis can also help families and caregivers establish a system that allows them to understand and manage the child’s difficulties.
Besides special educators, psychologists, and pediatricians, an SLP plays a crucial role in the treatment and management of ASD. Primarily, SLPs can work with the child to improve social and communication skills to ensure their success at home, school, and later life.
Following the 2001 World Health Organization guidelines, autism treatment is designed to:
For ASD, the primary goal of treatment is improving social communication and language skills as well as managing or modifying existing behaviors. These are all key in making sure the child is not hindered from developing and maintaining relationships, succeeding in social settings, and being actively involved in daily life.
More specifically, an SLP may work with the child to improve the following skills:
Our licensed child psychologist provides diagnostic evaluations for individuals of any age concerned about a possible autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Parents are initially interviewed regarding their child’s early developmental history, the history of the problem, and current concerns. The child is then administered a developmental or IQ test, depending on their age, and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). In some cases, a school observation is also recommended. Our licensed child psychologist then meets with parents to discuss the results of the evaluation and make recommendations for how to proceed.
We provide social skills training.
PROVIDED BY LICENSED SPEECH LANGUAGE PATHOLOGISTS
One of the hallmarks of Autism Spectrum Disorders is difficulty with language and communication, negatively affecting the child’s social functioning. Our intervention primarily targets social speech in naturalistic settings: entertaining games, activities, and play. For toddlers and preschoolers, play is the most important teaching tool when targeting social speech. Improving the right play skills increases social attention, also known as joint attention, the building block for social reciprocity. For school age children, goals may include explicitly teaching social rules, e.g. conversation starters and killers, reading non-verbal communication, e.g. what does it mean when someone frowns and crosses their arms, teaching what others may be thinking, providing skills to deal with classmates etc., and ideally practicing these social skills in small groups. We also work with siblings and transfer goals from therapy into your home.
Provided by our licensed child psychologist
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, also known as CBT, is often helpful to individuals with ASD who are struggling with their social behavior and emotions. Individuals who have trouble knowing how to behave or managing their behavior in social situations can benefit from CBT, as can individuals who have difficulty managing intense emotions. CBT typically relies on parent involvement to allow the child to generalize what they learn in therapy to their everyday life.
PROVIDED BY DR. PATEL
Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders often have difficulty with sensory processing, self regulation, motor planning, and fine/visual motor skills. Occupational therapy intervention primarily focuses on assessing the child’s individual sensory processing skills in relation to everyday functional living skills. Assessment also involves assessing all other areas of occupational therapy’s domain, including activities of daily living, play skills, social skills, and motor skills. For toddlers and preschoolers, intervention would include parent education, home programs, sensory diets if necessary, and targeting the individual needs of each child to develop foundational skills needed for the child’s everyday functioning whether that be in a sensory gym setting or in the home. For school age children, goals may include social skills, functional writing skills, or activities of daily living as it relates to school, home, and community performance. Individual occupational therapy sessions are also provided in a sensory gym for families who are interested in having access to specialized therapeutic equipment to target sensory processing skills. Consultation is also provided to families who currently are receiving services and would like strategies to be integrated in the home and community.