Speech Delay or Autism? Let’s Differentiate the Two.

Are you still waiting for your child’s first words? So much so that it’s causing you a concern? We understand how you feel. If you are reading this article, chances are, you have a worrisome thought lingering behind your brain: “Does my child have autism?” If this is the case, you have come to the right place. In this article, we will be asking the question at hand, “?”

We’ll discuss the differences between speech delay and autism, their characteristics, and look at some home therapies that help autistic children with speech delay. So, without any further ado, let’s begin.

What is Speech Delay?

A speech or language delay is typically when a child isn’t developing speech or language at an average rate. Speech development can vary from child to child. However, it is important to know the signs of speech delay. So, what are the signs that your child may have speech delays? Let’s look at some of them quickly.

  • 4 to 6 months – no babbling of any sort.
  • 12 months – not using hand gestures (pointing, waving) or using consonant-vowel combinations (“da,” “ma,” etc.)
  • 18 months – struggling to imitate sounds, not understanding what you are saying, preference on gestures over speech to communicate.
  • 24 months – struggling to understand simple instructions, unable to combine words like “Daddy come.”

Causes of Speech Delay.

You might be wondering, what causes speech delay? There may be several causes of speech delay, and the most common ones are:

  • Hearing loss, ear infections, or those with hearing impaired.
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
  • Down Syndrome.
  • Brain Injury.
  • Low birth weight or premature birth.

What is Autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurological disorder affecting various factors, including communication, social interaction, and behavior.

What is Autism?

When it comes to the causes of autism, the medical science is silent. There is speculation that autism is a combination of genetic and environmental factors, but a list of definite causes is still not cemented formally in medical science.

Are the Two Related?

One of the common tells of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is difficulty with communication, including speech and language delays. This is where the confusion comes in. If your child is struggling with speech, your concern is justified. But the situation is a little tricky.

Differentiating Between Autism and Speech Delay.

A balanced diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, such as fruits, vegetables, fatty fish (high in omega-3 fatty acids), and antioxidants can reduce overall inflammation. Additionally, avoiding processed foods and consuming too little sugar are advised. Some studies suggest that some individuals with autism may benefit from avoiding casein and gluten, although more research is needed to support this idea.

In addition to being crucial for overall health, appropriate diet also supports the body’s anti-inflammatory defenses.

Behavioral Difference.

There are clear differences between children with speech delay and ASD. For instance, children with a speech delay are more close to their parents and peers. They positively respond to attention and gestures and mimic the behaviors of people around them. Children with ASD, on the other hand, have trouble with social interaction, communication, and behavior. They may not positively respond to gestures and attention and may prefer to be left alone.

Speech Patterns.

Another way you can differentiate between children with ASD and speech delay is by observing their speech patterns. Children with speech delay will often have difficulty verbalizing specific speech sounds. Children with ASD may also struggle with this, but they may also use persistent repetition of words or phrases called echolalia.

Motor Skills.

Lastly, you can differentiate between speech delays and ASD through motor skills. Both children with ASD and speech delay may have trouble with coordination tasks, such as using scissors or writing something. However, children with ASD may also exhibit repetitive body movements, such as flapping and hand spinning.

Trust Your Gut – Seek Evaluation from a Specialist.

Although speech delay and ASD may differ, they can relate to each other. If you are concerned for your child, always trust your gut. There may be a possibility of your child having high-functioning autism speech delay. Seek professional consultation from a speech-language pathologist, autism specialist, or developmental pediatrician. If your child is struggling with speech, you may want to evaluate your child from a specialist.

Therapies You Can Start for Autism with Speech Delay at Home.

Even though there is no cure or cause of autism, early intervention can significantly help a child. The recommended stance is to seek professional therapy. However, there are ways of speech therapy for autism at home that you can apply to provide holistic care for your child. Let’s discuss some of them one by one.

Talk to Them.

As a parent, you need to encourage lots of talking. Talk to your child, even though you are not getting any responses. A good way to do this is to describe every activity that you are doing in real-time.

Play Games Together.

Games are a great way to practice communication. Try playing games like charades or memory tiles, or you can Google games that you can play with to improve communication step by step.

Make It Fun.

Children with ASD respond well to highly structured activities. However, that isn’t to say that you can’t make it fun when it comes to speech therapy. Observe your child and pick up on activities that they like to do or enjoy. Incorporate them into your routine speech therapy.

Seek Autism Language Development Therapy.

The best way to go about speech therapy is to complement them with an autism language development program. At Cross River Therapy, we offer a range of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapies for children with ASD, helping them with social skills, self-care skills, and more.

Wrapping Up.

Speech delay and Autism may seem correlated, but they aren’t always. There are subtle differences that differentiate between the two. If you are concerned for your child, seek professional evaluation right away. If you are looking for autism speech delay treatment, we invite you to reach out to us. Feel free to visit our website and read more about our services and therapies.