Speech Therapy

by Lara Dean, M.S., CCC-SLP

category: Category: Autism

What is Speech Therapy?

Speech therapists work with individuals of all ages who exhibit a full range of communication disorders such as, language, articulation, voice/resonance, fluency, swallowing, and other related disorders.

The role of speech language pathologists (SLP) working with children and young adults is to improve communication, articulation, social interaction, and emotional regulation, so that an individual is able to fully access and participate in the educational environment, in the community, and form meaningful relationships with family members and same-aged peers.

What does Speech Therapy Treatment Involve?

Speech therapy services for individuals with autism are provided in a variety of settings dependent upon the individual’s needs (i.e., group therapy, peer-mediated treatment, one-on-one intervention). Some settings for treatment include the home, school, worksite, adult day care, or an outpatient clinic. Services include evaluation, intervention, and measurement of outcomes. It is important that family members, educators, caregivers, and other support members collaborate to determine an individualized intervention plan for the client.

Speech therapists address specific skills such as receptive and expressive language, pragmatic language, emotional regulation, reading and comprehension, articulation, and fluency.

How Do I Find a Speech Therapist?

Children birth to three years of age can qualify for services through state funded early intervention. Contact your local agency to set up the referral process.

School-based speech therapy is available through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). If your child does not currently receive speech therapy services through your local preschool or school system, discuss how to begin the referral process with the special education team at his/her locally zoned school or with the special education director of the school district.

Outpatient services are often provided in many states. Your local healthcare provider should be able to recommend a local speech therapist for your family.

Please note that the process to receive special education services varies by state. For more information, contact your child’s locally zoned school or the special education director for your child’s school district.

Who Pays for Therapy Services?

Speech therapy is a skilled, rehabilitation service that is covered through school systems, private health insurance, and Medicaid. However, policies vary within each company and by state or employment agency.

Is There Research Supporting Speech Therapy?

Speech therapy is an evidence-based practice for all ages of the lifespan. Speech therapy research shows that appropriate intervention (i.e., pragmatic language, articulation, emotional regulation, etc.) can improve an individual’s ability to fully access and participate in the school environment, home environment, and the community.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2010). Roles and responsibilities of
speech-language pathologists in schools [Professional Issues Statement].
Available from www.asha.org/policy. doi:10.1044/policy.PI2010-00317

ASHA R&R Workgroup. “Roles and Responsibilities of Speech-Language Pathologists
in Early Intervention: Guidelines.” (2008): Web. 11 Feb. 2016.

Bene, Konabe, Devender R. Banda, and Donna Brown. “A Meta-analysis of Peer-
Mediated Instructional Arrangements and Autism.” Web. 11 Feb. 2016.

Brandel, Jayne, and Diane Frome Loeb. “Program Intensity and Service Delivery
Models in the Schools: SLP Survey Results.” Program Intensity and Service Delivery Models in the Schools: SLP Survey Results. Learning Speech And Hearing Services in Schools, Oct. 2011. Web. 11 Feb. 2016.