When you have a child with autism, communication can be a big challenge. Understanding the problem and knowing how to address it can help you feel less stressed and more in control. But what if you don’t have all the vital facts you need?
Your child’s speech-language pathologist (SLP), commonly referred to as a speech therapist, is a great source of information about all kinds of communication issues. All you have to do is ask.
Seek Expert Advice
Autism can affect communication in myriad ways. Some children with autism speak very little or not at all. Others merely repeat what someone else has said or speak in a high-pitched or robot-like voice. And still others have trouble using gestures or eye contact to help get their message across.
Interventions also vary widely, depending on a child’s age and abilities. That’s why it’s essential to get individualized answers to your questions about communication. Ideally, these answers should come from an SLP who is familiar with both autism in general and your child in particular.
Ask Your Questions
Before your child’s next SLP visit, jot down a list of questions and concerns. Add new questions as they arise. Then bring your list to the next appointment, and you’ll be prepared to get all the information you need.
Here are 10 questions to ask the SLP:
What strengths does my child have? What communication challenges does my child face?
What are the goals of my child’s speech-language intervention? Why are these goals priorities at this time?
How will you help my child learn these new skills?
Is there evidence that this approach is effective for children with autism who are like my child?
How can I help my child communicate at home, at school, and in the community?
How will the intervention be tailored to my child’s age and interests?
Would my child benefit from sign language?
Would my child benefit from computer technologies such as a speech generating device?
How will you monitor my child’s progress? What’s the best way for us to work together and share information?
Where can I find further support?
Related Video: Choosing the Right Speech Generating Device
Know the Answers
Write down the SLP’s answers, or ask if you can record the visit so you can play it back later. If anything is unclear, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. A good way to check your understanding is to tell the SLP in your own words what you think was said. Then, before leaving the office, make sure you know how to contact the SLP for any questions that come up after you get home.