Stages of Speech Development in Autism

Children often follow a fairly typical language development pattern, which is why a significant deviation from this standard pattern often creates concern among parents. Since autism is a developmental disorder, children on the spectrum do not progress the same as their peers.

Being able to spot these differences is important to evaluate for a diagnosis — it’s also important in terms of your understanding. As you become more educated, you can better support your child as they grow.

What Are the Stages of Speech Development in Children with Autism?

When considering the typical language development pattern, milestones are fairly standardized. 

For example, by three months, babies typically cry with purpose, and by one year, imitate speech and can say at least one word. It’s important to note that there are many reasons why your child’s language is delayed, and autism is just one possible cause.

Recommended reading: How to Know If Your Child Has Autism

Children with autism may not hit age-appropriate milestones in the same way their typical peers do. 

Instead, they may experience the following speech development stages:

  • Developing out of order — Language development among children with autism is not always linear. Your child may excel in one area of language and struggle in others. That is why it’s beneficial to work with a trained professional, as they will create a program that targets your child’s specific needs.
    • At the Pingree Center there are trained specialists that will provide all the resources for your child in any stage. Stages of speech development are what the specialists are trained on to be able to guide and help your child at their own pace.
  • Echolalia — Has your child been repeating phrases they heard on TV or from others? This is known as echolalia and is more common in children with autism. 
    • Many children with autism go through the echolalia phase during the stages of language development. This stage is where they repeat phrases they have heard from others or television.
  • Delayed development — It’s important to remember that each child is unique. While some children have a mild delay, other children are severely delayed. Your child could still be non-verbal by age four. Luckily, speech therapy has come a long way, and when implemented early, children can catch up to their peers.

The Pingree center can provide the care and education necessary for your child no matter what stage they are in with speech development.

How Does Autism Affect Speech and Language?

Research shows that many children on the spectrum exhibit a language delay or struggle to communicate. However, the relationship between autism and language development is a complex topic, especially because no two children with autism are the same. 

For example, one child with autism may speak early, but as they develop, they may not use language to express themselves. Another child with autism may be completely non-verbal. Depending on the severity of your child’s language delay, it may be one of the first warning signs you notice.

Autism and Speech – How to Help Your Child

Some parents find that their children with autism show a lack of interest in others, giving them fewer opportunities to practice their language skills.

That is why experts recommend you help your child with autism learn language through techniques such as modeling, playing, and rewarding. The key is to provide your child with meaningful, motivating opportunities to practice their language skills.

Early intervention is best when you work with your child to support language development. If your child has a reason to use language, they are more likely to express themselves as they grow. One strategy is to put your child’s favorite toy out of reach so that they have to ask for it. 

You can also read a book together, discussing what you think about each page. With any language activity, give your child time to express how they think or feel.

Playing games can be a successful strategy, as well as modeling. This involves you speaking, using gestures and facial expressions. Help your child use appropriate words by being more vocal. For example, if they lift a package for you to open, you can say “help” or “open please.” You can also verbalize your actions so that they pick up more everyday words.

If you need professional help, the Pingree Center is here for your child and family.

Please contact us to learn more about how we help children with autism across the nation!