Autism Specialist

Speech Success

Jacqueline Ahrens, SLPD, CCC-SLP

Pediatric Speech Therapist located in Emerson, NJ

You may notice the signs of autism in your baby's first year, or not until they get older and enter school. No matter when you recognize speech and language delays, don't wait to connect with Jacqueline Ahrens, SLPD, CCC-SLP, at Speech Success. Dr. Ahrens has a clinical doctorate in speech-language pathology and a passion for helping children with autism. After completing an assessment, she develops therapeutic activities based on your child's favorite topics, keeping them engaged while improving their communication skills. To schedule an appointment, call the office in Emerson, New Jersey, or use the online booking feature today.

Autism Q&A

What is autism?

Autism (autism spectrum disorder) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that begins in early childhood and persists throughout adulthood. Autism represents a spectrum disorder because it includes people with a vast range of symptoms and abilities.

Some children with autism are nonverbal, while others can express themselves. Autism is a disorder marked by deficits in communication. Those who receive support that foster skills both at home and at school can grow up to live functional and even independent lives.  

What core challenges define autism?

Most people on the autism spectrum faces two core challenges:

Difficulty with social skills and communication

Social skills and communication issues can include a multitude of aspects from understanding and responding appropriately in social situations to being able to see another person's point of view. Signs of social skill issues can include lack of eye contact and ability to take part in a conversation. 

Repetitive and restrictive behaviors

Most people on the autism spectrum experience adjusting to changes in their expected schedule. Instead, they find security in following a predictable routine. Additionally, they may tend to have one interest and engage with items around them in an unconventional way such as lining up cars in a row instead of pushing them on a racetrack. 

What are the signs of autism?

The severity of the disorder can play a large factor in when you may start noticing the signs. These are only a few examples of common signs:

  • Lacking eye contact
  • Delayed communication skills
  • Extreme distress from small changes
  • Prefering to play alone
  • Repeating what another person says 
  • Not responding to their name
  • Playing by lining up toys
  • Watching the same video
  • Being interested in one toy or topic
  • Interpreting everything literally

Your child may also have sensory processing problems that make them under- or over-sensitive to sounds, textures, lights, smells, and temperature.

How is autism treated?

Many different therapies are available to help children with autism, including:

  • Speech and langauge therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Social skills/pragmatic therapy
  • Applied behavior analysis (ABA)

Speech therapy supports many autism-related challenges, from teaching them how to speak and overcome pragmatic language issues, to helping them tolerate different types of foods.

Dr. Ahrens uses many techniques that support communication in nonverbal children. She is trained in the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS®), as well as other augmentative and alternative communication techniques like speech-generating devices.

The team at Speech Success also meets with your school team to create the best educational plan and coaches parents on how to advocate for their child.

If your autistic child needs speech therapy, call Speech Success, or book an appointment online today.