It still surprises me when I meet parents who do not understand the importance of speech therapy helping their child with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Many times parents think that speech therapy is all about articulation. If your child has problems with articulation it is obvious every time the open their mouth so it would be understandable to think of that first.
Speech therapy is about so much more for the child with Autism and Aspergers. Imagine your frustration when you realize that you cannot make other people understand you. You want and need something and cannot get it. Imagine the anger when you realize other people do understand each other. This is the situation some of our children find themselves in.
It is not as simple as getting people to understand. Some children with ASD do not even have the words to try to say. This is where speech therapy becomes critical. A good speech therapist will start working on stimulating speech. Whether engineering situations for a child to talk and later debriefing what they could have said or individually working with a child to understand how to chit chat with peers a speech therapist is still needed.
We as parents may be thinking we can do that and we can. Among all the other things we need and want to do teaching verbal social skills is part of what every family does. A speech therapist brings concentration on what is a critical area for a child with Autism. Those 30 minutes to an hour sessions twice a week focusing on communication is the meat and bones of what our children need to learn to accommodate their disability.
In working with my own child with ASD, speech therapy was one of the services that we worked hard at keeping all the way through high school. We also worked with Direct Service Personnel (DSP), provided through various programs, to make sure they knew she needed to talk as much as possible. It was tempting when she was a child to answer for her. By the same token it is tempting for DSPs to speak for your child. That is a situation easily taken care of if everyone is on the same page of stimulating children with Autism and Aspergers to use whatever language they possess every time an opportunity presents.