Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome
Autistic Spectrum Disorders are characterized by three main areas of difficulty – impaired communication skills, impaired social interactions and restrictive or repetitive behaviours or interests. Individuals with Autism often have the following difficulties with their communication:
- Delayed/disordered language skills
- Lack of joint attention
- Limited eye contact
- Lack of understanding and use of non-verbal communication including gestures and facial expressions
- Echolalia often in the form of repetition of phrases from television
- Limited play skills particularly imaginative play
- Difficulties in conversations including iniatiating and sustaining conversations and topic maintenance in conversations
- Overly literal interpretation of language and difficulties with abstract or figurative language
Children with Autism are usually diagnosed prior to 3yrs of age often due to significant delay in the development of language skills. Autism is a spectrum disorder meaning that the level of difficulty can vary greatly from severe to mild across different individuals. At the severe end of the spectrum, the child may have significant intellectual impairment and be non-verbal. At the mild end the child may be quite high functioning.
Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome also have difficulties with communication, social skills and repetitive or restrictive behaviours but experience no significant delay in the acquisition of early language skills. In fact the young child with Asperger’s may be described as having precocious language and a large vocabulary (even though it may not be semantically well developed). Individual’s with Asperger’s do not have impaired cognitive skills and may present with above average intellect.
The team at Communicate Speech Pathology has over 12yrs of experience in the treatment of children, teenagers and adults with Autism and Asperger’s. Our treatment is highly individualized as no two individuals with ASD will present in exactly the same way. The focus of our therapy is on meaningful, functional communication and helping the child to develop social skills that will allow them to enjoy and look forward to interactions with others. Our therapists are highly sensitive to the anxiety experienced by many of our clients with ASD and work tirelessly to ensure that therapy goals are achievable and that positive reinforcement is always provided.
The Speech Pathologists at Communicate Speech Pathology can provide up to $12,000 in government funded speech therapy for children aged 0-6yrs with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. Additional rebates are also available for children aged up to 13yrs. We also have Please contact us for more information regarding our services.
Down Syndrome (also known as Trisomy 21) is a chromosomal condition caused by an extra 21st chromosome. Individuals with Down Syndrome present with some intellectual disability and varying degrees of speech and language delay. Difficulties with articulation, receptive and expressive language and reading are common.
At Communicate our therapists have over 12yrs experience in working with children, adolescents and adults with Down Syndrome. We use a variety of techniques including PROMPT, PECs, signing and AAC devices to promote communication development. Many of our clients with Down Syndrome use applications for i-pod touch and i-pads to assist with their everyday communication.
In our experience, children and adults with Down Syndrome make great gains when therapy is aimed at developing their individual strengths. Many of our clients with Down Syndrome attend regular schools, participate fully in their communities and have gone onto achieve employment in a variety of roles. We are proud members of Down Syndrome NSW and encourage our clients to access the services of this wonderful organization.
The Speech Pathologists at Communicate Speech Pathology can provide up to $12,000 in government funded speech therapy for children aged 0-6yrs with Down Syndrome through the Better Start Initiative. Additional rebates are also available for children aged up to 13yrs. Please contact us for more information regarding this funding and our services.
Dyspraxia is an articulation difficulty that results from a chronic neurological disorder in which messages regarding movement and planning for speech sounds are not transmitted properly from the brain. Both speech and oral non-speech movements can be affected.
Children with dyspraxia have difficulty planning, initiating and executing speech sounds and non-speech movements. They present with speech errors which are inconsistent resulting in variable speech quality from day to day. Children with dyspraxia often simplify their words and sentences and struggle to produce multi-syllabic words or say sounds in the right order within words. Another sign of dyspraxia can be “groping” or searching for the mouth movements required to produce speech.
The child with Dyspraxia has normal comprehension and intelligence but struggles to coordinate the movements needed to adequately express themselves. Understandably this can cause the child to become very frustrated.
The chronic nature of dyspraxia can mean that therapy is ongoing for some time. For children with dyspraxia who are becoming increasingly frustrated it is important that multiple tools for expression are provided such as visuals and signs or gestures. These will not prevent speech from occurring but will help the child to communicate their needs until their speech improves.
At Communicate we use specialist techniques to assist Child Speech Development. Our training in PROMPT has been proven to be very successful for clients with speech difficulties including Dyspraxia.
Please contact us for more information regarding our work with children with Dyspraxia.
Fragile X Syndrome
Fragile X Syndrome is the most common cause of inherited intellectual disability and the most common known genetic cause of autism. It is a condition which can have impact on individuals and families in various ways and degrees of severity (Fragile X Association of Australia 2012).
Symptoms of Fragile X include developmental delay, speech and language delay and behavioural problems such as rigidity in routines, poor concentration or a fixation on certain interests.
Individuals with Fragile X are also more likely to suffer from ADHD, Autism or anxiety.
The Speech Pathologists at Communicate Speech Pathology can provide up to $12,000 in government funded speech therapy for children aged 0-6yrs with Fragile X. Additional rebates are also available for children aged up to 13yrs. We also have experience working with adults with Fragile X.
Please contact us for more information regarding our services.
Persasive Developmental Disorder Not Other Wise Specified is a diagnosis given to children who often present with some but not all of the symptoms of Autism or Asperger’s and therefore do not fully meet the criteria for a full diagnosis. Symptoms may be mild or in just one area, for example, social difficulties but no restricted or repetitive behaviours. This “atypical” or “subthreshold” autism may also be characterized by late age at onset.
At Communicate we know that every child with PDDNOS presents differently and has their own strengths and weakneses. Our programs for children with PDDNOS are highly individualized and based on thorough assessment of communication skills and observations in the pre-school or school environment.
The Speech Pathologists at Communicate Speech Pathology can provide up to $12,000 in government funded speech therapy for children aged 0-6yrs with PDDNOS. Additional rebates are also available for children aged up to 13yrs. If your child is presenting with PDDNOS please contact us for more information regarding our services.
Selective Mutism is an anxiety disorder charactersied by not speaking outside of the home to select individuals or in select settings which continues for more than one month. Most commonly found in children, they understand spoken language and have the ability to speak but often are reluctant to speak in some settings, have a phobia of speaking and fear of people. Selective Mutism is related to severe anxiety, shyness, and social anxiety and research shows a possibility of genetic influence or vunelrability. (Selective Mutism Foundation 2012).
The Speech Pathologists at Communicate Speech Pathology have experience in working with children and adults with Selective Mutism. Our gentle and empathetic approach to therapy has seen us make great gains for our clients with this difficulty. Selective Mutism should be treated as soon as possible with success most likely prior to commencing school. If you think that your child may be presenting with this disorder please do not hesitate to contact us. Early intervention is key for this disorder as symptoms can increase if left untreated.
Speech Pathology Australia estimates that 326,000 Australians stutter. The exact cause of stuttering is not known yet the research indicates some difficulties with neural processing contribute to the disorder. Whilst anxiety and stress do not appear to be the cause of stuttering they can certainly make the condition worse. There does appear to be some genetic influence involved as it is common for stuttering to be found in more than one family member.
In children, stuttering usually commences when the child starts to combine words into sentences. The stutter may present as repetition of syllables or words, blocks (stoppages as they attempt to start saying a word) or prolongations of a sound in a word. Facial grimacing or signs of struggle when speaking may develop later as the stutter persists.
The Australian Stuttering Research Centre advises that treatment for stuttering should commence within 12 months of onset or there is a risk that therapy will not be effective. Whilst some children may spontaneously recover from stuttering it is impossible to predict if and when this may happen. Stuttering can have a significant impact on the individual’s self-esteem, social interactions or ability to work later in life so it is important that the condition is treated promptly.
At Communicate our Speech Pathologists are trained in the highly regarded Lidcombe Program. This program is a behavioural treatment for young children who stutter and relies on parent training and administration. Our speech pathologists train parents to use this program in their everyday environment with their child over a course of several weeks. Following this, the child is placed on a maintenance program to ensure that the stutter does not return. Clinical research shows that this program is highly effective in eliminating stuttering.
If your child is presenting with a stutter please do not hesitate to contact us for more information about the Lidcombe program. You may also like to visit the Australian Stuttering Research Centre website for more information.