Speech-language pathologists play a critical role in the treatment of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) because communication deficits are a primary component of both the diagnostic criteria and the focus of educational services for children with these conditions. Children with ASD almost always are delayed in speech acquisition (Tager-Flusberg, Paul, & Lord, 2005), as well as in other areas of communication. Lack of speech is often the most obvious symptom and greatest cause for concern of parents of toddlers who are eventually diagnosed with ASD, even though closer observation usually reveals additional problems.
Paul, Rhea, "Talk to Me: Issues in Acquiring Spoken Language for Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders" (2009). Speech-Language Pathology Faculty Publications. 20.