Autistic Spectrum Disorder

Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Social Language Impairments
(Pragmatic Language Impairment – PLI)
Learning Difficulty/Disability (LD)
Hearing Impairment
Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)
Phonological disorders
Articulation disorder

Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is an umbrella term that covers children with highly-varying abilities. Children with ASD can range from being very proficient in their language use (e.g., some children with Asperger’s syndrome) to being non-verbal. Intellectual abilities can also be very diverse. All children who are diagnosed with ASD are said to have a Triad of Impairments:

Social interaction

  • Impaired ability to understand non verbal cues (body posture, tone of voice, facial expressions and gesture)
  • Lack of social/emotional  reciprocity  (seems indifferent to interaction from family members and friends and may resist attempt of interaction)
  • Failure to develop appropriate  peer relationships


  • Delay / absence of spoken language; may use pointing or gesturing rather than words to indicate needs and wants
  • Difficulty understanding, processing and retaining verbal information
  • Literal understanding and interpretation
  • Impairment in the ability to initiate and maintain a conversation

Imagination - Flexibility of Thought

  • Restricted patterns of behaviour, interest and activities
  • Insistence of adherence to routines
  • Persistent preoccupations
  • Stereotyped repetitive motor mannerisms

One of the main concerns expressed by the parents of a child who has been diagnosed with Autism is:  “Will my child be able to talk?” Extra help, encouragement and intervention are almost always required to set a child on the right path of communication and teach them what communication is indeed all about. Getting your child involved in a Speech Therapy programme as soon as possible is the first step to enhancing and encouraging more functional speech, language and communication development.

For children with ASD Speech Therapy focuses on:

  • Language development (receptive and expressive)
  • Social Communication
  • Pragmatics, which also focuses on improving a child’s social–language skills
  • using language for different purposes (greeting, requesting, informing)
  • changing language style according to the listener and situation
  • following conversational rules (turn taking, introducing the topic, maintaining the topic and using facial expression appropriately)
  • Use of Alternative and Augmentative means of Communication (AAC) where necessary (LINK to AAC)

Asperger’s syndrome (AS) is the highest-functioning form of Autism. Children with AS are also followed at ATLAS Training, using our unique Transdisciplinary team approach.