Effective verbal communication relies on language and cognitive processes, such as attention, sequencing and working memory. Communication also relies on the motor system (e.g., motor planning and execution), since nothing can be communicated without movement.
What is communication? Many people think of communication as simply the expression of needs and wants, but it is far more than that. Communication is the act of using movement (of the mouth or other parts of the body) to deliver a message to other(s).
There are two language systems that are available to us for verbal communication: spoken language and written language.
In neurotypical children, spoken language develops before written language. However, children with autism and other developmental differences may have more difficulty with auditory processing and enhanced visual processing. This means that their ability to recognize and process visual images, such as written words, may exceed their ability to recognize and process spoken words.
"It’s an unbelievable dream that J. has blossomed in this way. We didn’t know he knew so much. Now we can communicate. He’s so proud that he can demonstrate what he knows."
-Parents of a Young Adult With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Traditional speech-language therapy programs often attempt to teach expressive language right at the outset, generally by asking the child to produce single words, such as “open” or “more” in a repetitive way.
Language intervention is more effective when the initial focus is on strengthening the sensorimotor and cognitive precursors to language. These precursors include auditory and visual processing, sustained attention, sequencing, and working memory.
Even before they can speak, many children are able to build language skills through reading, writing, and typing. Cortica’s Speech-Language Therapists teach both spoken and written language in parallel. We also employ a range of programs to teach advanced language and story comprehension.
Another under-recognized aspect of language development is the importance of rhythm and timing in the act of speaking. Cortica’s Music Therapists use music to build the rhythmic basis for language and communication.
Your child's customized treatment plan will likely use therapies that center on language and cognition. To determine what your child's developing mind needs most, we employ a methodical step-by-step approach that uses the highest quality laboratory tests available.