Getting Speech Therapy
There are multiple resources for families who have concerns about their Autistic child’s speech and language development. Here I will list a few available to people in the United States.
How do I get free early intervention services for autism?
Search the terms “early intervention,” “early start program,” or “head start program” plus the name of your state on google. Find the phone number to call for “eligibility” or “referrals” and call the number to request an evaluation for your child. This is free to the public.
How do I get speech therapy for autism through the public school system?
If you are in the United States and your child is three years or older, you can have a special education eligibility evaluation. This is often performed by multiple professionals, including a school psychologist and both the evaluation and services are free to the public.
If my child has autism, will they be in a special education class?
Not necessarily. Having autism does not always mean that the child will be put into a special education class. Some children are put into a general education class and are given additional special education services to help them be successful in that setting like speech therapy. Other children who need more support, may be placed in a special education class. It is possible that a child may only need to be in a special education classroom for a few years and can eventually be integrated into a general education class for part or all of the day. This all depends on the child and their progression. All in all, if a child is placed in a special education preschool classroom, it does not necessarily mean they will be in a special education high school classroom when the time comes.
How do I get private speech therapy for autism?
Utilize the internet and yelp to find a private speech therapist with positive reviews who has experience working with children with autism. While private speech therapy is usually paid-out-of pocket, ask if they can provide a super-bill for your to seek reimbursement from your insurance.
How do I get speech therapy for autism through my insurance?
Contact the member services department of your insurance to inquire about how to find a speech therapist in your area that would be “in-network” for your insurance and accepts your type of plan (HMO vs PPO). They should have a database of clinics in your area and provide you with the contact information.
Do I need a doctor’s referral to get speech therapy?
In most states, you do not need a referral from a doctor to access speech therapy either through your insurance. Check with your insurance provider if you are not sure.
What is ABA therapy?
Applied behavioral analysis (ABA) is a type of therapy that can improve social, communication, and learning skills through positive reinforcement. These therapists are trained in behavior management strategies.
Does ABA therapy help autism?
ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy is essential for many families with a child with autism. Once the child’s behaviors become more under control, speech therapy goes much smoother, and progress is often faster. ABA is not solely for children diagnosed with autism but is one of the most common reasons a child is enrolled in this type of therapy.
How do I get ABA therapy for autism?
If you live in the United States and your child is under three years old, you probably are already involved with the state early start program. If so, you’re probably already working with a service coordinator to get ABA therapy. If not, call the state early start program local to you and ask about what services are available to you. Otherwise, you can seek these services through your insurance provider or through an organization that accepts payment out of pocket.
Common Questions about Autism
If you have insurance, a great place to start is with your pediatrician. Discuss your concerns with them and ask for a referral for a developmental evaluation from a pediatric psychologist and speech-language pathologist.
If you live in the United States and your child is under the age of three years old, contact your state Early Start program and ask for a developmental evaluation from their team of professionals. These services are state-funded and free of charge.
If you live in the United States and your child is under the age of three years old, contact your local school district and ask for a developmental evaluation by the school psychologist. These services are state-funded and free of charge.
Contacting a licensed professional in your area is the best way to get answers, but of course, this process takes time. I'm sure you are feeling worried and want to start something right away to help your child. That's why I've created the online course for parents called How to Teach a Toddler to Talk.
Yes! As a speech-language pathologist, I’ve helped scores of autistic children learn to communicate. Waitlists for evaluations can be quite long, and speech therapy is not as accessible during the covid-19 pandemic, so while you pursue in-person services, enroll in my online course for parents.
One of the critical skills that autistic children struggle with is communication, and that is what speech-language pathologists are best at treating! I specialized in this autism speech therapy during my master's program in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. In my DIY online course for parents, I share my step-by-step process for helping your child from home.
An estimated 60% of autistic people learn to talk in some manner through intervention. I'd love to share my expertise with you in my online program, How to Teach a Toddler to Talk! and give you tangible steps to start today with your child.
Disclaimer: This information is meant for general education and not to diagnose. Every child is different, and Autism Spectrum Disorder is a complex developmental disorder that can manifest differently in other people.
Note: I am electing to use identity-first language to describe the Autistic community in this blog because it is the preference of many Autistic people.