Autism spectrum disorder, or autism, in short, is a wide range of conditions that impairs the ability of a person to communicate effectively, interact with others, and to behave “normally” within a group. In general, autism is characterized by delays or challenges in the development of language and social skills.
Physiologically, autism impacts the nervous system and through it, delays the development of cognitive, social, emotional, and possibly even the physical health of an individual. Though the exact symptoms may vary, it includes difficulty in communication, social skills, and repetitive behaviors.
These symptoms and their varying range are also what make autism a unique condition, and one that is challenging to treat or handle. The needs of every autistic individual are different, so a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work here.
Lack of proper communication is one of the most significant symptoms of autism. When you say communication, it doesn't necessarily have to be the choice of words. It can include a wide range of things such as inability to express what is going on in one's mind, preference to not talk at all, and using repetitive words that are out of context in a situation.
Other possible communication problems you can find in autistic people are:
- Sudden cries, shrieks, and harsh sounds.
- Talking in a musical way.
- Blabbering with similar words that don't make any sense
- Trying different kinds of speech like a robotic way of talking or trying to use a foreign language to communicate, where the words of the language are mostly made up and have no relevance whatsoever.
- Repeating what is being said by another person.
- Using an out-of-context tone of voice, even if the right words are used.
- Inability to pronounce words in the right way
- Too difficult for others to understand what the individual is saying
- Not exploring alternate ways of communication like gestures.
- Making eye contact with others
- Understanding the context and meaning of words used in a conversation
- Lack of creativity in language use
- Memorizing words without understanding what's being said.
- Lack of non-verbal cues.
Not all individuals will have the same level of difficulty or the same symptoms, but there will be some level of difficulty with communication in all individuals with autism disorder.
One form of treatment that can be used to handle autism is speech therapy. Though many of you may wonder what the link is between speech therapy and autism, in reality, there is a lot of common ground between the two.
If you look through the traits of autism, you'll notice that communication issues are one of the developmental delays. Even if the severity varies, there is difficult some difficulty in communicating and expressing what an individual has in mind. And speech therapy can help to bridge this communication issue.
Most often people tend to associate speech therapy with delay in language development. But in reality, it can help to solve many of the communication and interaction issues that are inherent in autism.
Benefits of Speech Therapy
Speech therapy has proved to be an effective treatment for addressing many problems related to autism.
- Speech therapy helps autistic individuals to communicate using different non-verbal cues such as gestures.
- Helping children to use different pictures from a picture book to express their needs
- Gets individuals to sing songs to a certain rhythm or tune to help them get the right tone of expression in a conversation.
- Improved pronunciation of words that make it easy for others to understand what is being said.
- Helping individuals to use the right choice of words in a given situation.
- Understanding idioms and phrases and through it, the context of a conversation.
- Working with people within small groups to give them the confidence to communicate with more confidence, first within their small group, and slowly to the world at large.
- Overcoming the use of repetitive words or behavior.
These benefits of speech therapy greatly enhance the ability of an autistic individual to communicate and have a near-normal social life with friends and family members. It can have a positive impact on this condition as a whole and can help these individuals to better integrate with society.
Can you get your health insurance to cover the costs of autism treatment? Of course, the answer will depend, in part, on the medical plane you have and on the types of treatment you're seeking. But even if your insurance doesn't cover anything called “autism treatment,” there's a good chance you can get many important treatments covered.
What Is “Autism Treatment?”
There is really no such thing as “autism treatment.” There are, however, a wide range of treatments available for and appropriate for people on the autism spectrum. Many, though not all, are covered by most major medical insurance.
Covered therapies are most likely to include medications and well-established therapies (speech, physical therapy, occupational therapy). Many insurance companies will also cover the cost of a psychiatrist (at least for some period of time). More autism-specific therapies, such as ABA (behavioral therapy), feeding therapy, or developmental therapies such as Floortime or sensory integration therapy, are less likely to be covered. The good news, however, is that many such therapies are provided, free of charge, through school districts.