Speech sounds can help autistic kids develop linguistic skills

London: Children with autism who often suffer impairments in communication can develop their speech, gestures and a sense of rhythm and melody by listening to various speech sounds, says a study.

The study, which focused on the autism spectrum condition (ASC) — the range of autistic disorders including Asperger syndrome — revealed a temporal relationship between the systematic organisation of sounds in languages and the melody of speech and gestures.

Also auditory and visual perception can be an important precursor for language development in children with ASC.

When the children listen and observe, there is a potential for development of interaction via speech and gestures, the researchers maintained.

Further, children with ASC with very delayed speech are likely to develop their speech as late as at age five, thus, rendering the method beneficial in interventions involving these kids.

‘We wanted to find out whether an intervention focusing on typical traits of children with ASC could be used to develop various linguistic skills, such as syllables and sentence construction as well as intonation and gestures,’ Pia Nordgren from University of Gothenburg in Sweden said in an official statement.

Children with ASC often have a good sense for details hence, focusing on practising of sounds and syllables can therefore be used to achieve an interaction and to develop other linguistic areas, the researchers noted.

The researchers followed two Swedish boys with ASC in three different studies. Minimal word pairs where only one speech sound differs between the words, for example p-b, were gradually introduced in order to increase the awareness of phonemic contrasts and symbolic representations of words.