Does Speech Delay Mean Autism

Does Speech Delay Mean Autism

Perhaps you have noticed that your child isn’t able to speak with as much fluency and clarity as other children their age, or that they aren’t responding to their name. It is common for parents of young children to be concerned with their child’s speech and language development. When a child is not meeting developmental milestones when they should, it can be an indicator of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or a speech, language, or communication delay. It is important to note that there is a wide range of normal in children’s development, and children reach various milestones in varying order and at different ages. While some of the signs of symptoms of ASD and delayed speech are similar, there are a few key differences between communication delays and ASD. 

As a parent, it is important to be educated on the patterns of speech development and to monitor and identify any differences or abnormalities in our child’s development. If you are concerned at all about your child’s communication skills, it is important to seek the guidance of your child’s pediatrician and/or a qualified speech and language pathologist. These professionals can help to keep you informed, as well as help you to make the best decisions for your child and their development. Don’t wait to get help for your child, get started with Great Speech by scheduling your free introductory call today! 

What is a Speech or Language Delay?

Speech and language delays are relatively common among young children. A child may have a delay in speech or language if they are not reaching the appropriate developmental milestones that are typical for their age. While it is common for speech and language delays to be confused or interchanged, they are distinct and unique conditions. 

Speech involves how the child produces, articulates, and manipulates the sounds that are used to create words. Poor pronunciation of difficult-to-produce sounds such as /s/ and /z/ can make it difficult for the child to be understood by others. A speech delay can be developmental in nature, which means that the child is following the typical speech patterns but at a slower rate than is developmentally normal. A speech delay can also be caused by a speech motor disorder (ex: apraxia of speech) which affects the child’s ability to effectively coordinate the movements of their lips, jaw, and tongue to accurately produce various sounds.

A language delay, on the other hand, doesn’t necessarily affect how speech is produced, but the words and phrases that are being used. This is typically referred to as an expressive language disorder. A child with a language disorder may be able to pronounce sounds and words correctly, but struggle to form the words into proper phrases to communicate their ideas. A receptive language delay affects how the individual processes information that is communicated to them. They may frequently have difficulty understanding what others are communicating, learning and using new words, and extracting meaning from spoken and written communication.

What Causes a Child to Have a Speech Delay?

There are many factors that can contribute to the development of a speech delay. Some of these are:

An Oral Impairment Related to the Tongue or Palate

A Short Frenum of Tongue Tie Which Limits the Movement of the Tongue

Chronic Ear Infections

Oral-Motor Difficulties

Hearing Impairments 

Can you Have a Speech Delay and Not Have Autism?

While a speech delay is often diagnosed alongside Autism Spectrum Disorder, it is possible to have a speech delay without Autism. Whatever the underlying cause of communication difficulties might be, getting support as soon as possible is vitally important. Get started by scheduling your free introductory call today

How Often is a Speech Delay Autism?

It is well known that speech delays and other learning difficulties are some of the hallmark signs of ASD, the development of a speech delay does not automatically mean that the individual also has ASD. While Autism spectrum disorder often comes with significant challenges when related to speech and communication, it also comes with challenges related to social skills and behavior. 

What are the Differences between Speech Delay and Autism?

Even before a child speaks their first word, childhood development typically follows various stages and milestones. During the infant and toddler years, children will usually start to experiment with using their voice by babbling, cooing, and playing with the tone and volume of their voice. Young children will use all kinds of non-verbal communication skills to effectively communicate their needs and establish essential social relationships. As they grow and develop, children begin to learn and master the production of specific sounds and put these sounds together to create words. As these skills further develop, children are able to connect the positive results (ie: getting what they want) to their communication efforts which in turn encourages them to work on larger words and sentence formation. 

A child with a speech or language delay usually follows the same developmental patterns as their peers but is generally slower to achieve these milestones. However, these children are still strongly motivated by social responses and affection such as hugs and smiles. Children with a speech delay will exhibit a desire to build strong social connections with their parents, caregivers, and peers will respond positively to attention, and are motivated to mimic the actions of those around them.

In addition to a speech and/or language delay, children with ASD often experience additional difficulties in relation to their communication, socializing, and behavior. These difficulties can disrupt the child’s ability to build meaningful social relationships with others as well as the ability to excel in academic and social situations.

How Does Speech Therapy Help with a Speech Delay?

Speech-language pathologists work collaboratively with other health and care providers such as doctors, teachers, counselors, and psychologists, who play an essential role in a child’s treatment plan. Speech therapists are experts when it comes to diagnosing and treating communication-related challenges that coincide with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The speech and language pathologist will develop a customized treatment plan that is specialized to the child’s specific needs, challenges and goals. Speech therapy for an individual with ASD will help them effectively express themselves, improve their personal and social connections, foster independence, and help them to function more effectively during day-to-day activities. Early intervention brings the best outcomes for children who are struggling with their communication. Get support for your child by scheduling your free introductory call today!