Autism Spectrum Disorder

Headstart can offer both diagnostic and intervention services to children through to adults on the autism spectrum.  

If you are concerned that your child is showing signs of an Autism Spectrum Disorder please explore our Multi Disciplinary Services/Autism Spectrum Disorder section of our website.      

Taken from “The role and responsibility of speech pathologists in assessing, diagnosing and treating clients with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Position Statement” written by The Speech Pathology Australia Ltd (2008).

Roles for speech pathologists working in the area of Autism Spectrum Disorder Children, adolescents and adults diagnosed with ASD face similar challenges in relation to their social communication and interaction with their environment. Speech pathologists have a role in the management of communication and social interaction impairments presenting in the individual with ASD and in supporting them to effectively break down barriers that impact on their ability to communicate and interact.

Appropriate roles for speech pathologists include but are not limited to:

1. Screening: Speech pathologists are involved in the early detection of individuals at risk of ASD, often referring to other specialists or recommending that individuals participate in a formal assessment; formal diagnosis and subsequent intervention. Speech pathologists are among the first professionals to identify individuals with potential ASD communication behaviours and social traits.

2. Assessment: Speech pathologists are trained to assess an individual’s speech, language, pragmatics (social skills) and pragmatic language. A comprehensive speech pathology assessment will ascertain those communication areas requiring intervention and support.

3. Diagnosis: As an integral part of a multidisciplinary team, speech pathologists play an important role in contributing to an ASD diagnosis through the analysis of all aspects of a client’s communication skills. In order to confirm an ASD diagnosis, speech pathologists may also refer to other professionals in order to rule out other conditions and to support their final diagnosis regarding a client’s communication skills.

4. Intervention: Speech pathologists possess the relevant knowledge and skills to assist individuals with a range of communication skills and communication behaviours. Speech Pathologists may assist individuals with ASD in initiating spontaneous communication in a range of settings; assist ASD clients and communication partners with the use of verbal and non verbal communication (including gesture, speech, signs, pictorials) across all settings; develop appropriate social skills and language to promote participation and acceptance within the community; impart knowledge on the use of augmentative and alternative communication systems; and to access literacy and language within their environments.

5. Working with Families: Speech pathologists will adopt a family centred approach to working with an individual with ASD in recognition that working with the individual’s family and significant others is essential in maximising effective communication in meaningful social contexts. Speech pathologists have the appropriate knowledge and skills to provide education, counselling and support to families and significant others.