Every child grows and develops at their own pace. One of the most common metrics by which parents track the growth of their child is speech. Generally speaking, eleven to thirteen months in age is considered a typical time for first words. But communication delay in children is pervasive. You may have heard that a communication delay can be a sign of autism. However, many children without autism exhibit speech delay as well. Let’s go over some of the differences.
Non-Autistic Communication Delay in Children
Just because your child exhibits signs of a communication delay is not indicative of autism per se. Ask yourself the following question: even if your child is not verbally communicative, are they social? Keep in mind that humans engage in an abundance of social activity that is not verbal.
We communicate using more than just our words. For instance, we make eye contact. We gesture. We observe and imitate others. Even before children are forming words, they will often babble in a manner that is decidedly expressive—even social—to get their point across. If you’ve noticed your child engaging in some of these social behaviors, it is not likely that they are on the autism spectrum.
Autistic Communication Delay in Children
One of the defining characteristics of autism is that it inhibits people from having meaningful social connections with others. It follows that if a child has a communication delay and struggles with nonverbal communication, they could have autism.
For instance, it is typical for children with autism to be more interested in or motivated by things than responses from others. They have difficulty understanding nonverbal forms of communication, such as facial expressions or gestures such as pointing. If they exhibit these behaviors in addition to a communication delay, then these could be early signs of autism.
What to Expect
If your child is in fact on the autism spectrum, you should expect them to have communication delays. The good news is that, in this day and age, there an abundance of resources to assist both you and your child. The field of speech-language pathology is more developed than ever. Experienced and certified speech therapists can work with your child to improve their communication—both verbal and non-verbal.
Early intervention can be extremely effective at mitigating the impact of a communication delay in children due to autism. Consider enlisting the help of a professional today to give your child the best chance to develop their communication ability.
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center serves families of children and adolescents with disabilities and special needs. We are a team of experts in the fields of pediatric speech, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and behavioral sciences. As a team, we offer intensive hands-on therapy for children and adolescents, as well as informative and useful resources for families. If you are interested in learning more about what we can do to help your family, visit us online or give us a call at (301) 577-4333. Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.