Autism is a complex developmental disability that is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. (Autism Society of America)

Autism is a spectrum disorder, and although it is defined by a set of behaviors, children with autism can exhibit any variety of these behaviors that range from mild to severe. It is not unusual for two children with the same diagnosis to display very different behaviors and different skill levels.

A primary problem for many children with autism is difficulty with communication skills. These children may understand language but can display difficulties with verbal expression. Some children may demonstrate echolalia where they repeat what was said rather than responding to communication. Still, other children may communicate using made up words (e.g., mabkib for napkin). It is also common for children with autism to use an unusual conversational tone, rhythm or pitch.

Children with autism also exhibit difficulties with social interaction skills. They demonstrate repetitive and ritualistic play (e.g., repeatedly lining up all of their toys in a specific manner). Children with autism sometimes have difficulty initiating conversations, maintaining eye good contact, and being able to appropriately interpret facial expressions and body language exhibited by other children and adults. Very often autistic children exhibit a general lack of interest in what is going on around them and demonstrate a lack of awareness regarding methods for interacting with other individuals.

Other characteristics of children with autism include:

  • Fascinated by one topic (e.g., numbers)
  • Repetitive actions such as spinning or hand flapping
  • Difficulty with transitions from situation to situation
  • Difficulty with changes in schedule
  • Difficulty transferring a learned skill from one situation to another
  • Difficulty with of incidental learning: Learning does not take place unless the child is directly instructed regarding the task
  • Literal interpretation of expressions like “He’s wearing his birthday suit” or She lives in the “Big Apple.”
  • be oversensitive to sensory stimuli (e.g., loud sounds, articles of clothing)

At the Institute for Communicative Disorders, we believe that whatever the diagnosis, children with autism can learn, function, and demonstrate improvements given appropriate treatment and educational support.

It is our belief that because parents are most familiar with their own children, they should play an integral key role in helping to plan and implement services for their child. One major focus of our therapy program for children on the autism spectrum is to develop a relationship with the parents so that we are able to collaborate and develop an effective therapy plan that not only has meaning within the therapy room but includes instruction for developing communication skills beyond our therapy room.

At the Institute for Communicative Disorders we can provide the following services:

  • Individualized, one on one treatment sessions for children on the autism spectrum
  • Active parent participation
  • Our treatment program focuses on improving verbal and non-verbal communication skills for children at all stages of development
  • A portion of each treatment session will be used to discuss the child’s progress and methods for implementing improved communication strategies outside of the therapy room.

The following links are recommended viewing and reading by the Institute For Communicative Disorders. These third-party website are operated outside the domain of the ICD.

Social language is a very difficult part of communication for children with autism. At ICD we provide opportunities for children to work on these skills through social groups. During our hour long social group, children with autism interact with a typically developing peer in activities such as, art, play, music, story, and snack. In each of these activities pragmatic skills are introduced and practiced. These skills include: sharing, greetings, initiating play, joining in play, communicating needs and wants, and answering questions. For more information on our social groups please see the link below or email Sarah Meyers at