Autism is one of the fastest growing developmental disorders in the United States. With 1 in 68 children now estimated to have autism spectrum disorder, community support is critical. During May Is Better Hearing & Speech Month, the speech-language pathologists at Integrated Pediatric Interventions encourage people to use this as an opportunity to consider how they communicate and interact with people with autism.
"Everyone can play a role in fostering an inclusive atmosphere for children and adults with autism, whether at school, in workplaces, in local businesses, and throughout our society," notes Marlies Gramann, Director of Clinical Services for JCFS Chicago.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by difficulties in social communication and social interaction and the presence of restricted, repetitive behaviors. Speech-language pathologists diagnose and treat children with autism. We help in areas including communication skills and social skills.
Reach out. People with autism want to make social connections just like everybody else, but it might be more difficult for them. Make an effort to engage the person in conversation or to invite them to participate in an activity.
Be patient. Give the person additional time to speak and respond. Don't try to finish the person's sentence or thought for them.
Modify your communication. Rephrase what you say if the person doesn't understand or respond the first time. Use visual cues, or write your message down. Go the extra mile to be a good communication partner!
Don't make assumptions. Don't assume you know what the person wants or what they are thinking. Ask them!
For parents who have questions about their child's development, don't delay. The time is now to seek an evaluation. There is nothing to lose, but a lot to gain if there is an issue that needs to be addressed.