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What does a speech therapist do to help ASD?

Screening: Speech-language pathologists play a critical role in screening and early detection of individuals at risk for ASD and makes referrals to experienced professionals for diagnosis and intervention services.


Diagnosis: Speech-language pathologists who acquire and maintain the necessary knowledge and skills can diagnose ASD, typically as part of a diagnostic team or in other multidisciplinary collaborations, and the process of diagnosis should include appropriate referrals to rule out other conditions and facilitate access to comprehensive services.


Assessment and Intervention: Speech-language pathologists should prioritize assessment and intervention in those aspects of development that are critical to the achievement of social communication competence and that honour and adapt to differences in families, cultures, languages, and resources. Speech-language pathologists should recognize the guidelines and active components of effective, evidence-based practice for individuals with ASD. They should draw on empirically supported approaches to meet specific needs of children with ASD and their families, thereby incorporating family preferences, cultural differences, and learning styles. Speech-language pathologists should assist communication partners in recognizing the potential communicative functions of challenging behaviour and designing environments to support positive behaviour. Embracing a broad view of communication, speech-language pathologists should assess and enhance the following:


1. the initiation of spontaneous communication in functional activities across social partners and settings
2. the comprehension of verbal and nonverbal communication in social, academic, and community settings
3. communication for a range of social functions that are reciprocal and promote the development of friendships and social networks
4. verbal and nonverbal means of communication, including natural gestures, speech, signs, pictures, written words, functional alternatives to challenging behaviours, and other augmentative and alternative communication systems
5. Access to literacy and academic instruction and curricular, extracurricular, and vocational activities.

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The information in this article was kindly provided by The South African Speech, Language, Hearing Association. For further information kindly contact them on: 0861 113 297 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.