The American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) defines Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as a “neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in social communication and social interaction and the presence of restricted, repetitive behaviors.”
Impairments in social communication and interaction may include:
- Deficits in joint attention (e.g. difficulty orienting to people, limited frequency of shared attention, limitations considering other’s intention and perspective)
- Difficulty initiating and responding to bids for interaction
- Difficulty maintaining turn-taking during interaction
- Difficulty understanding and using nonverbal gestures, facial expressions, and gaze to communicate
- Difficulty forming peer relationships
- Difficulty expanding on play skills to include make-believe
- Difficulty starting or maintaining a conversation
- Difficulty expanding expressive language and use to include a variety of pragmatic functions (e.g. label, request, question, comment)
- Difficulty understanding and using more complex language
Impairments in behavior may include:
- Being preoccupied with specific interest and using objects in unusual ways
- Being inflexible and stuck on specific routines
- Using stereotyped or repetitive motor movements (e.g. hand or finger flapping)
- Demonstrating restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interest, or activities (e.g. immediate echolalia and scripted language)
- Difficulty with self-management and emotions.
Social pragmatic deficits are often seen in individuals with ASD. Pragmatics refers to the social use of language. ASHA states pragmatics involve three major communication skills: using language, changing language, and following rules.
- Using language for different purposes (e.g. greet, request, comment, question)
- Changing language according to the needs of a listener or situation (e.g. using different language with a baby than an adult, giving background information to an unfamiliar listener, and speaking differently in different environments)
- Following rules for conversations and storytelling (e.g. taking turns in conversation, maintaining a topic, rephrasing when misunderstood, using verbal and nonverbal signals, how close to stand to someone when speaking, and how to use facial expressions and eye contact)
The therapists at Jennifer Katz, Inc. have a variety of skills and knowledge to treat children with ASD. Intervention incorporates several techniques to best serve each individual child. Our blog post “Autism and Emotions” can provide additional information on teaching children about feelings.