Perth Speech Therapy can provide comprehensive information on autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children. Whether you are a parent, educator or simply seeking knowledge, we can offer insights, resources and support to help you better understand autism and navigate through the journey ahead.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism (ASD) is a neurological disorder that affects some people. It presents differently from one person to another, which is why it is called a spectrum. Autism is a condition that affects the way a person feels, interacts, thinks and experiences their environment. The diagnostic characteristics of autism are impairments in social interactions and the presence of restricted and repetitive behaviour. 

Social communication refers to being able to: 

  1. Initiate a conversation or play with others.
  2. Take turns in conversation or play.
  3. Meaningfully link conversations to a topic.
  4. Express appropriate nonverbal behaviour such as the use of gestures or facial expression. 

Impairments with social skills can lead to children experiencing difficulties with making friends. (World health Organization, 2015).

Children with autism can often display restrictive and repetitive play. This may include stereotypical speech / behaviour, fixation on topics (dolls, dinosaurs), strict adherence to daily routines and becoming anxious and dysregulated if change occurs. 

These characteristics are NOT in every child who has autism. Some children with autism have well above average intelligence and require little to no support. In contrast, other children may have an intellectual disability, behavioural difficulties (PDA), limited verbal output and require a communication device to help support their language and social participation. 

Early Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder?

The following list of commonly seen signs is not in all children with autism. It can however be used to provide an indication of whether your child has autism. 

Does your child:

  • Respond to his / her name or mainly “ignore” you.
  • Respond to other people’s emotions? 
  • Copy sounds or sit in silence? 
  • Have reduced joint attention / turn taking skills. 
  • Become intolerant to changes in routines.
  • Not like certain food colours, textures or does the food need to be separated on the plate and not touching.
  • Like to play with other children or prefer to play alone. 
  • React to  loud noises, certain fabrics and foods etc.
  • Uses gestures/ words to communicate needs and wants. 
  • Enjoy ‘people games” (e.g. ‘peek-a-boo’, pat-a-cake). 
  • Respond to simple requests. 
  • Initiate or join in pretend play (e.g tea party, feeding the doll) etc. 
  • Have limited play (same toys, repetitive play, lining up of toys) etc.
  • By the age of 18 months have over 50 simple words. 
  • By 2 years use 2 – 4 word sentences. 
  • Follow simple instructions. 
  • Show excitement when interacting with other people / children. 
  • Have consistent speech or did your child ‘lose’ language? 
  • Have the ability to tell a story / recount their day at school.

Two ways in which children with Autism learn speech / language. 

  • Echolalic Speech: This is often regarded as ‘empty’ speech. Echolalic speech is when someone repeats exactly what they have heard. There are two types: ‘immediate’ repetition or ‘delayed’ repetition. The child may repeat the wording in the exact tone in which it was spoken.  Please note typical developing children also go through a phase where they repeat what they hear as they are acquiring language and building their vocabulary. Echolalic speech is often speech out of context. The words are spoken with no communicative intent. If a child has echolalic speech, then these words are not considered to be part of a child’s vocabulary repertoire.
  • Analytic Language: Is when the child learns one word at a time. 
  • Gestalt Language: Is when a child learns language in ’chunks’. Using ‘chunks’ of language eventually leads to creating longer and longer utterances and piecing the different chunks together to create different utterances. These children often learn ‘scripts’ typically from a T.V show, movie or from people. Children who learn language in this way often require a different approach to acquiring language. The approach is based on the National Language Acquisition Framework.

Support and Resources:

At Perth Speech Therapy we have Speech Pathologists who are trained in assessing and diagnosing children who have Autism.

At Perth Speech Therapy, we have Speech Pathologists who assist parents / carers with developing their child’s speech and language. They also assist with teaching children to spell, read and write. 

We hold group sessions for parents / careers / grandparents and children. We deliver the HANEN program which involves working with parents in coaching them in how to effectively interact with the child to develop/ produce language. At the same time, the children are with a Speech Pathologist and Therapy Assistants who are working on the child’s language development.

Is your child a fussy eater? Perth Speech Therapy also has experienced staff who work with families in helping their child to eat a range of foods through a ‘fun’ and ‘hands on’ approach. 

Occupational Therapist:

If you are experiencing difficulties with your child’s behaviour, families are advised to see an Occupational Therapist (O.T.). 


If you are concerned regarding your child’s language, social interactions and / or behaviour and wonder if your child has autism, it is strongly advised that you see a paediatrician

If you have a young child who has limited to no language, then you may be eligible to receive support through NDIS.

Perth Speech Therapy’s goal is to meet and assist every parent on this journey. Remember, to help them reach their full potential understanding and acceptance are the key in supporting children with autism.

Phone Perth Speech Therapy today for assessment, diagnosis and well evidence intervention – M: 0412 256 656