Effective verbal communication relies on language and cognitive processes, such as attention, sequencing, and working memory. Communication also relies on motor planning and execution, since nothing can be communicated without movement.
Spoken and Written Communication
Communication is one of the first goals of therapy for children with autism, and rightfully so. But 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 often have difficulties with auditory processing and have 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 and sequences of spoken words.
It’s an unbelievable dream that J. has blossomed in this way. Now we can communicate. We didn’t know he knew so much! He’s so proud that he can demonstrate what he knows.
J. & J., Parents of a young adult with autism
A Different Approach to Language for Children with Autism
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 highly repetitive way.
Language intervention is more effective when the initial focus is on strengthening the cognitive precursors to language, which include sustained attention, sequencing, and working memory. This is one important part of our unique approach to building language and communication.
Teaching Spoken Language and Written Language
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 language and written language in parallel. We also employ a range of programs to teach advanced language and story comprehension.
Rhythm and Timing
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.