One of the key, critical areas affected by autism is language. Early intervention in this area is just critical. We knew early on that David would be needing speech therapy, and I was all for it, even though I had no idea how much a speech therapist really did!
David's speech therapists not only gave him exercises on pronunciation, they worked on activities that strengthened the muscle tone of his face, helped him understand root words and how they can be applied to create language (like "tele-phone" and "tele-vision" both make noise or if you like Cheese Nips you'll like Cheese Goldfish Crackers). They played word games with him so that he could understand associations like between, first, middle, last, around and other abstract terms. They had a hundred different ways to help him communciate and reinforce the emerging speech patterns. It was amazing, and I can never thank any of them enough for their hard work and their dedication to finding what worked for his style of learning and thinking.
If you're new to the process, I found a great list of questions you may want to ask your speech therapist. Getting language support ( and getting it early) is so very important to this process. Even if you're not sure your child is autistic, if you're noticing a developmental delay in their language skills, get it checked out. It's so very worth it!