There is no one size fits all diagnosis for teens on the autism spectrum. What is challenging for one teen, may be a strength for another. And while each person is unique, some teens on the spectrum may struggle with speech and language issues. 

Types of Language and Speech Disorders

Teens on the autism spectrum’s ability to communicate and use language depend on their intellectual and social development. While some may have difficulty verbally communicating, others may have strong verbal skills and be able to talk about specific subjects in great detail. For teens who struggle with communication, tone and inflection may be particularly difficult for them to understand. 

Common speech and language disorders include: 

  • Repetitive or rigid language where teens continuously repeat words or phrases. 
  • Echolalia where teens repeat the last words that someone has just said. 
  • Narrow interests and exceptional abilities where teens hyper-focus on one subject and have extensive knowledge around their chosen topic. 
  • Uneven language development where teens develop speech and language skills but not to the same level as their peers. They may be able to read, but have difficulty remembering or comprehending what they have read. 
  • Poor nonverbal communication skills where teens are unable to link their gestures, such as pointing to what they want, to give meaning to their speech. 
  • Avoiding eye contact which can make teens seem rude, uninterested, or inattentive to people who do not understand the behaviors of people on the spectrum. 

Speech Therapy for Teens on the Spectrum

Working with a speech-language pathologist can help address language problems and speech disorders. Once a teen has been diagnosed with autism, speech therapy can assess the best way to improve their communication to enhance their quality of life. Being unable to communicate can be incredibly frustrating for teens on the spectrum, who may resort to acting out when they do not feel understood. Through speech therapy, pathologists can also work closely with the family, school, and other professionals in a teen’s life. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and understands the steps that are being taken to best support their teen. 

Speech therapy may include: the use of electronic devices to “talk” for the teen, signing or typing, using visuals like picture boards, or improving the articulation of speech by massaging or exercising lips or facial muscles. Speech therapy can also improve conversational skills, help teens articulate words well, aid in comprehending verbal and nonverbal communication, help teens understand others’ intentions in a range of settings, and teach teens the appropriate time and place for communication.

Seven Stars Can Help

Adolescence can present many challenges for teens who are falling behind their peers due to the neurological and developmental lags associated with ASD and ADHD. Seven Stars is one of the nation’s premier residential treatment centers for teens with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Whether diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder to date or not, Seven Stars’ students are those who struggle socially, emotionally, and academically.

Our foundational philosophy is that our students have the ability to succeed if they are given a safe, therapeutic environment that provides the opportunity to practice new skills, build awareness, increase awareness and mindfulness, and build self-efficacy. Success is possible and Seven Stars is here to help every step of the way. We turn challenges into an opportunity for growth and success. For more information please call (844) 601-1167.