Is late speech a sign of Autism?

Sep 7, 2022 | Babies, Delays, Development

Is Late Speech a Sign of Autism?

As parents we want the best for our children. We want to meet their developmental needs in the best way possible. In order to do this, we need to know what those needs are! In this post, we dive into if late speech is a sign of autism and how to know the difference between early signs of autism versus a speech delay. 

What is Autism? 

Autism is a difference in the brain where people think/process, act, learn, and often communicate in a different way. Autism is not bad or wrong, anti-social, or unintelligent. And it is not the same for everyone—there is not a one-size-fits-all characteristic that identifies a person with autism. Children with autism can grow up to be happy, successful adults.

Early Signs of Autism

Parents often wonder, “What are these differences in brain processing, and how will I know if my child is exhibiting typical developmental delays or showing early signs of autism?” 

These are excellent questions, and hopefully we’ll answer some of them for you as we describe early signs of autism. If you notice these early signs in your child, we recommend an autism evaluation. A diagnosis will not change who your child is but can provide support to help you better understand how your child’s brain works so that you can help meet his individual needs! 

Speech Delays and Autism

Speech delays are common both in children with autism and children without autism. But there are very real differences between the two and understanding various speech delays will help you to recognize if they’re related to autism (Lisa Jo Rudy, verywell health).

Babies quickly learn that communication is the key to getting what they want. They’ll do whatever it takes to get your attention—pull on your sleeves, point, babble, whine—all before they utter a single word! Before long, most children learn to use the spoken language to get the results they’re looking for. 

Signs of typical social communication development include being:

  • Highly motivated by social responses such as smiles and hugs.
  • Naturally inclined to imitate the actions of people around them.
  • Likely to spend much more time observing people than observing things.
  • Socially inclined, becoming quickly bored or lonely when left alone.

Signs of development for a child with autism show social communication challenges that hinder meaningful social connection. A child with autism:

  • May be more motivated by his or her own interests than by social responses.
  • May rarely or never imitate others’ actions.
  • May be more interested in things than people.
  • May be content when left alone to pursue their own interests.

These characteristics lead to different behaviors, desires, and outcomes (verywell health). 

Autism involves a combination of characteristics, including language differences, social differences, sensory differences, and repetitive actions. The following chart summarizes the characteristics that help to identify a child with autism; however, a child who exhibits some of these characteristics doesn’t necessarily have autism.

what is autism

How do I know if my child has ASD (autism spectrum disorder)?

The chart below will help you to watch for some pattern differences that may identify autism spectrum disorder, which often appears in the early years of life. If your child seems delayed in any of these areas, reach out to your pediatrician to come up with a plan for next steps! 

 

In honor of Autism Awareness & Acceptance Month in April, @speechsisters teamed up with speech-language pathologist and Autism Advocate @mrsspeechiep to discuss the difference between children with a speech/language delay and children with autism. We’re sure you’ll find this resource to be helpful! 

For more about communication milestones, take our online quiz and download our FREE milestone checklist

To learn simple and effective strategies to help get your little one talking, check out our Talk on Track (newborn-14 months) and Time to Talk: Toddler Course (15-36 months). We’d love to equip you to experience the joy of your little one talking to you!

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Hi! We're Brooke & Bridget.

We know what you want most is for your child to talk. With more than 20 years of combined experience, we’ve diagnosed and treated hundreds of children with a variety of communication disorders and delays... if your child is having trouble communicating, we can absolutely help. 

We love everything about our work, but we're most excited about guiding parents with practical tips to integrate speech and language techniques into their everyday routines. We'd be honored to partner with you, too!

(And yes, we really are sisters!)

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