There are various causes of speech delay/order. The most significant of them all is probably Autism. Autistic children generally have varying degrees of problems in their verbal abilities. They can be non-verbal at the most or may be able to speak a little (e.g.,capable of imitating songs,rhymes,etc.). The intonation of speech may be odd and may be characterised by imitative repetition of words, non-sense rhyming, pronoun reversal and several other idiosyncracies in their language forms. Early signs of Autism include absence of babbling or gestures by the time he/she is 12 months, absence of single words by the time he/she is 16 months, absence of 2-word purposeful phrases by 24 months as well as loss of any language or social skills at any point of time in childhood. Those children who are endowed with adequate speech have a marked impairment in their ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others.
The main features of children having Autistic Disorder (AD) are :
- Impaired social interaction skills;
- Impaired communication skills;
- Impaired development in behaviour, interests or activities.
Impaired social interaction skills in autism include :
- Abnormal eye contact;
- Failure to orient to name;
- Failure to use gestures to point or show;
- Lack of interactive play;
- Failure to smile;
- Lack of sharing;
- Lack of interest in other children.
Impaired communication skills in autism include :
- Failure to speak;
- Odd intonation of speech;
- Imitative repetition of words;
- Pronoun reversal;
- Non-sense rhyming;
- Idiosyncratic language forms
- Absence of babbling or gestures by 1 yr.
Impairment of behaviour,interests or activities in autism include :
- Aberrant play skills;
- Solitary play;
- Ritualistic behaviour;
- Repetitive interests and behaviours;
- Tantrum-like rages;
- Heightened awareness of and sensitivity to certain stimuli;
- Diminished responses to pain and less responses to sudden loud noises.