Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

How our speech pathologists can help with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)


Communication impairments are common in people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD); therefore, speech pathologists play a key role in their treatment, especially for early intervention.

The main purpose of speech therapy is to help children, teenagers and adults improve their speech, language, communication skills, and social skills and social interaction. Communication is a key ability required to forming relationships, engaging with meaningful life pursuits and function successfully in world.

Generally, speech therapy can help a person with ASD to:

  1. Develop the ability to express their wants and needs by using both verbal and non-verbal communication
  2. Understand verbal and nonverbal messages from their communication partners
  3. Interact with people in a way most people understand and to make friends
  4. Articulate well

Visual strategies and social stories are commonly used for people with ASD. In addition, our speech pathologists are certified to adopt the following evidence-based ASD treatment approaches to assist a range of age groups.

Common Treatment Approaches

More Than Words – Hanen Program©

The More Than Words Hanen Program was designed specifically for parents of children ages 5 and under with ASD and with other social communication difficulties. It is a family-focused, social- pragmatic intervention program. It addresses the unique needs of these children by providing parents with the strategies and support they need to help their children reach their full communication potential. It aims at improving children’s social communication interactions, play skills and imitation skills.

Through this program, parents will learn what motivates their children to communicate, how to initiate and extend interactions with their children, strategies for engaging with their child, how to use parental knowledge about the child to set appropriate and realistic goals and generalising communication goals through incorporating daily activities and routines.

Our speech pathologists are certified to deliver this program for suitable parents. Parents are welcome to contact us for more details.

Speech therapy for children

The DIR®/Floortime® Model

The DIR®/Floortime® Model (Relationship-Based Model) was developed in the 1980s in the United States by two researchers – Stanley Greenspan, MD, and Serena Wieder, PhD. It aims to promote development by encouraging children to interact with parents and others through play.

The model is based on a developmental theory that all children need to reach certain milestones so they can continue developing emotionally and intellectually, however, children with ASD and/ or with other disabilities have difficulty reaching these milestones. Therefore they need intense, individualised support. It is believed that this interaction will help children reach milestones in their emotional development.

This approach targets to promote development in several areas including sensory development, motor skills, emotional and cognitive development as well as communication. 

It is recommended that children start the program as early as possible. Our speech pathologists could provide specific therapy to your child in the DIR®/Floortime® program, collaborating with you and all the team members who are helping your child.

Social Thinking®

It is a cognitive-based treatment framework for age 4 through adult with solid language and learning abilities and those with social learning challenges (including ASD, social communication disorder, and other related diagnoses). 

Social thinking is the process by which we interpret the thoughts, beliefs, intentions, emotions, knowledge and actions of another person along with the context of the situation to understand that person’s experience.” (Garcia Winner et al., 2020).

When we share messages with another person, we take this information to decide how to respond to affect the thoughts that person has about us to realize our social goals (such as being friendly to maintain a friendship, acting enthusiastic to impress an interviewer, etc.). Social thinking is our “meaning interpreter” – it allows us to translate the deeper meaning behind what others do in the world and leads us with how to respond. The social thinking ability has a significant effect on building and maintaining relationships with others, and success in school and at work. It affects the person’s social skills, perspective taking, critical thinking, self-awareness, self-regulation, social problem solving, play skills, reading comprehension, written expression, ability to learn and work in a group, etc. (Crooke et al., 2008; Garcia Winner & Crooke, 2009, 2011).

Our clinic works extensively on social thinking and you are welcome to find out more information from us to fit you or your loved ones’ need.

Denver Model

The Denver Model is a play-based and child-led treatment approach. It focuses on the development of social communication skills through intensive one-on-one therapy, peer interactions in the school setting, and home-based teaching (Rogers & Dawson, 2009). The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) (Rogers & Dawson, 2010) is an extension of the Denver Model. It is a behavioural therapy for children with autism between the ages of 12-48 months. It is based on the methods of applied behaviour analysis (ABA). It combines developmental approaches with behavioural teaching strategies and can be delivered in a variety of settings.

Parents and therapists use play to build positive and fun relationships. Through play and joint activities, the child is encouraged to boost language, social and cognitive skills.

Our speech pathologists trained in using the ABA methodology would be an intergral part of your therapy team to deliver this treatment approach.

In addition to the above-mentioned treatment approaches, there are many variations and combination of therapy programs to assist persons with ASD. Our speech pathologists will assess and discuss your specific needs and customise an individualized treatment program using one or more of the evidence-based approaches. Feel free to contact us for a discussion on how we may assist with improving communication skills in ASD.

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