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The disability at the center of this research is an autism spectrum disorder. This impairment is frequently observed in children and might be diagnosed around the third year of life. According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), autism is defined as “a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction … that adversely affects a child’s educational performance” (“Sec. 300.8 Child with a disability,” 2017, para. 6). The overall growing occurrence of the disability amplifies the need for its thorough investigation with the utilization of already existing and progressively emerging approaches. Indeed, research shows that about 30% of children with autism are unable to participate in verbal communication until they are five years old (Chenausky, Norton, Tager-Flusberg, & Schlaug, 2016). It is vital to carry out substantial analysis of some applicable interventions capable of minimizing symptoms and improving the overall well-being of young individuals with an autism spectrum disorder. This paper aims to overview the main characteristics of the analyzed impairment, discuss its possible causes, and identify positive and negative aspects of speech therapy as a widely used intervention in combating autism.
Autism spectrum disorder is characterized by behavioral issues such as possible self-injury, eye contact avoidance, repetitive actions without purpose, hand-clapping, rotating, and others (Bahmani, Sarrafchi, Shirzad, & Rafieian-Kopaei, 2016). Also, individuals with autism experience resistance to any changes and an abnormal reaction to sensory influencers (“Sec. 300.8 Child with a disability,” 2017). Cognitive characteristics of the disability are connected with the overall difficulty of such an individual to socialize, use verbal and non-verbal language appropriately, and engage in a meaningful conversation (Chenausky et al., 2016). Moreover, children who learn words and practice speech often fail to communicate due to leading a “one-way rather than an interactive and mutual conversation” (Bahmani et al., 2016, p. 280). As for some emotional symptoms, patients with autism are usually emotionally unstable, show signs of sudden changes of mood, absence of fear of obvious risks, and overall emotional disturbance (Bahmani et al., 2016). The combination of these symptoms obstructs the proper development of a child as a decent member of society due to the difficulties in maintaining socially important activities.
Despite the broad scope of investigation of the problem, there is no single answer concerning the roots of the disability. However, several approaches and theories are explaining the reasons and possible causes of autism spectrum disorder. The genetic causes are proven to be insufficient, although the prevalence of autism in siblings is higher than the general public (Bahmani et al., 2016). The neuropsychological theory presents a point of view that autism is caused by impeded brain operation and “central disturbance” (Bahmani et al., 2016, p. 278). Another theory justifies the neurochemical causes of autism that might be explained by the improper functioning of oxytocin and amino acid neurotransmitters (Bahmani et al., 2016). Overall, autism is a very complex disability that is characterized by many symptoms and causes and cannot be explained by a single influential factor.
Since one of the main problems in autistic children is their disability to speak correctly using verbal language, it is vital to address this issue in treatment. The intervention chosen for the research is one of the frequently used methods aimed at the improvement of autistic individuals’ development. This intervention is speech therapy, which embraces a series of techniques and activities targeting speaking and communicating skills learning (Chenausky et al., 2016). The components of the intervention include therapeutic interventions for relaxation and comforting a patient, parental support, equipment, and other helping materials.
The positive side of this intervention is that therapists have an opportunity to teach children new words which are functionally important for everyday life use in common speaking situations. The overall results indicate that children having experienced speech therapy acquire not only new vocabulary but also become more socially stable and engaged in social relationships (Chenausky et al., 2016). However, the negative side of it is that such an intervention is limited to those patients who are verbal and have limited vocabulary. The therapy does not show significant progress for non-verbal patients or those in their later stages of disability (Chenausky et al., 2016). There are no threats or risks related to the application of speech therapy to patients with an autism spectrum disorder.
Concluding the discussion of autism spectrum disorder and speech therapy as the treatment intervention, one can underline the overall importance of research in this field due to the frequent occurrence of the issue. Since autism is a complex and not ultimately researched disability, it is challenging to apply a single intervention capable of providing satisfactory recovery results. However, the current scope of research allows for analyzing the possible interventions to improve the development of children with autism. As this research shows, speech therapy might be beneficial for verbal individuals who have limited vocabulary and experience difficulty in maintaining socially functional communicational behavior. However, this intervention might be ineffective with non-verbal patients or those who are in the later stages of the disorder. Therefore, it is vital to use therapeutic advantages for the future development of the intervention to ensure the relevant treatment of autism spectrum disorder.
Bahmani, M., Sarrafchi, A., Shirzad, H., & Rafieian-Kopaei, M. (2016). Autism: Pathophysiology and promising herbal remedies. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 22(3), 277-285.
Chenausky, K., Norton, A., Tager-Flusberg, H., & Schlaug, G. (2016). Auditory-motor mapping training: Comparing the effects of a novel speech treatment to a control treatment for minimally verbal children with autism. PLoS ONE 11(11), e0164930. Web.
Sec. 300.8 Child with a disability. (2017). Web.