A child going to undergo speech therapy with the diagnosis of autism has to pass a criteria of characteristics. Here are the main criteria for a child to be diagnosed.
Criteria 1: Social Interaction
The child has to have a verifiable social interaction impairment. This impairment should be manifested by at least two of following behaviours:
1.Non-verbal behaviours like quirky body posture, eye stare/gaze, facial expressions and others.
2.Failure to develop peer relationships that are appropriate for their development age like making friends or relating to other children through sheer disinterest. The lack of emotional reciprocity falls in this category.
3.Lacking the will to share emotions and thoughts. The child doesn’t usually point to objects of interest and it is up to others to read or understand what the child is interested in.
Criteria 2: Communication
The child has a communication impairment with one of the following conditions:
1.Delay or total lack of spoken language development. This includes lack of expressive language, like hand gestures and facial expressions.
2.Where the child has adequate speech, they cannot initiate a conversation or even sustain one with other people.
3.Repetitive or stereotyped use of language, commonly known as idiosyncratic language, this is where what the child keeps saying is meaningless whether the word(s) exist or not.
4.Lack of imaginative or make-believe play. Play is a major distinction for children with autism. Their play is not influenced with social signals and social adaptations from the surrounding. Since play is a major factor in language development, this is important.
Criteria 3: Repetitive And Stereotype Behaviour Patterns
Autistic children manifest repetitive behaviour, and this criteria is judged by having at least one of the following conditions.
1.An encompassing preoccupation with one or more restricted patterns of interest that seem abnormal, like focusing on a trivial object e.g. a rotating fan all day long.
2.An abnormal affection for repetitive routines and rituals. These may be normal routines with a bunch of alternatives but the child always follows the same routine and is agitated by other options or possibilities, many times to the point of throwing tantrums .
3.Repetitive body mannerisms like finger twisting or complex body postures.
4.Preoccupation with small object like screws, buttons or other miniature details.
Autistic diagonsis is standardised and the above are the criteria needed to issue a positive diagnosis.
All speech therapist that deal with autistic children require that any autistic child be properly diagnosed as autistic, before they can start speech therapy sessions.
As you may expect, these sessions tend to be even more specialised, with totally different goals and timeframes compared to sessions for non autistic toddlers.