How Is Autism Normally Treated
There is no known cure for conditions on the autism spectrum. However, there have been many useful approaches and programs developed to help the child with specific difficulties which may be impacting on their quality of life or which may be in the way of their optimal development.
Some of these programs tend to focus on helping the child to develop communication, such as PECS .
Other approaches may be based on more traditional behavioural techniques designed to teach basic learning skills, such as ABA , or on implementing clarity and predictability children with autism tend to thrive on, such as TEACH .
Children with autism can be very effectively supported through people around them having an increased awareness of their condition, their support needs and their unique profile of their strengths and difficulties.
Families of children with more severe difficulties may also require some practical support or access to specialist resources to help them to support the child.
There is no best intervention for children with autism. An intervention that helps one child may not be suitable for another, so parents should always seek professional guidance.
Parents are advised to be cautious about any treatment that claims to cure autism.
Behavior And Communication Approaches
According to reports by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Research Council, behavior and communication approaches that help children with ASD are those that provide structure, direction, and organization for the child in addition to family participation .
Applied Behavior Analysis A notable treatment approach for people with ASD is called applied behavior analysis . ABA has become widely accepted among healthcare professionals and used in many schools and treatment clinics. ABA encourages positive behaviors and discourages negative behaviors to improve a variety of skills. The childs progress is tracked and measured.
There are different types of ABA. Here are some examples:
- Discrete Trial Training DTT is a style of teaching that uses a series of trials to teach each step of a desired behavior or response. Lessons are broken down into their simplest parts, and positive reinforcement is used to reward correct answers and behaviors. Incorrect answers are ignored.
- Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention This is a type of ABA for very young children with ASD, usually younger than 5 and often younger than 3. EIBI uses a highly structured teaching approach to build positive behaviors and reduce unwanted behaviors . EIBI takes place in a one-on-one adult-to-child environment under the supervision of a trained professional.
- Early Start Denver Model
There are other therapies that can be part of a complete treatment program for a child with ASD:
Can Autism Be Cured
Autism is a lifelong condition and currently cannot be cured.
However;autism can be treated and with the right early intervention, most children experience significant improvement in their quality of life and many children learn to function independently in mainstream school.
Child Autism UK;specialises in helping children who are diagnosed with autism reach their full potential.; This intervention works by enhancing intellectual, academic, social and emotional behaviours so that children can take better advantage of educational and social opportunities available in the community.
You might like to read Sams story.; Sam displayed many of the characteristics of autism, but now he attends school and is very much part of his class, even playing in the football team.
Child Autism UK would always warn parents to be wary of professionals who might claim to cure or recover the children they work with, but as Sams story shows, much can be done to help children become active members of their community and family.; Read more about effective early intervention, commonly called ABA.;
5. Deth, R et al . How environmental and genetic factors combine to cause autism: A redox/methylation hypothesis, NeuroToxicology 29 190201.
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What Does The Future Look Like For Nonverbal Children
Nonverbal children with autism could have a comfortable and quality life. It is important that with the right help, they could equip themselves with the necessary skills to live their life normally.
Although nonverbal, children with autism use other methods to communicate. Certain strategies, which we will discuss here, could be used to leverage these methods and add on to them.
Not being able to speak to communicate should not be seen as a setback, but as a challenge that could be overcome. Although there is no magic cure to achieve speech, your child could go a long way with your support.
Once they understand and learn a way to express what they are feeling, be it verbal or nonverbal, they will have a more positive attitude towards communication.
Complementary And Alternative Medicine
Complementary and alternative medicine is defined by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine as a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine. The definition of CAM adopted by the Cochrane Collaboration is a broad domain of healing resources that encompasses all health systems, modalities, and practices and their accompanying theories and beliefs, other than those intrinsic to the politically dominant health systems of a particular society or culture in a given historical period. Detailed reviews of CAM as related to developmental disabilities and ASD-specific CAM have been published recently.
The practitioner should encourage families to seek additional information when they encounter the following claims or situations:
treatments that are based on overly simplified scientific theories;
therapies that are claimed to be effective for multiple different, unrelated conditions or symptoms;
claims that children will respond dramatically and some will be cured;
use of case reports or anecdotal data rather than carefully designed studies to support claims for treatment;
lack of peer-reviewed references or denial of the need for controlled studies; or
treatments that are said to have no potential or reported adverse effects.
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Finding A Place In The Social World
Even if they escape bullying, many teens with ASD struggle with social isolation. A large national study of teens receiving special education services revealed that students with ASD were less likely to take part in social activities than adolescents with speech and language disorders, learning disabilities or intellectual disability.1
More than 40 percent of the teens with ASD never saw friends outside of school. Half were never invited to take part in activities. For 54 percent, friends never called.1
A smaller study found that “social withdrawal worsened with age for a substantial proportion of youths” with ASD between ages 9 and 18, regardless of IQ.2
“Teens say actually the hardest part is not having friends. People think they don’t want to have friends, but they do,” Ms. Sicile-Kira said.
Dr. Keefer said many teens and young adults with ASD want, at a minimum, to be accepted. “There is a desire to be accepted, to have people around you who are nice to you and with whom you can share your interests,” she said.
The “special interests” common to autism can be an escape from social interaction, if a teen occupies himself solely with his favorite topic. “But, if used correctly, those special interests can be a way to connect with other people. An interest in gaming, for instance, is often a way for teenage boys to connect with one another,” Dr. Keefer said.
- See IAN’s Adults with Autism section.
Ways A Parent Can Help Their Autistic Child
This is a post by Kimberlee Rutan McCafferty,;mother to two sons on the autism spectrum and an Autism Family Partner at the Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia . Kim is also the author of a blog about her two children with autism, at;autismmommytherapist.wordpress.com.;
It seems impossible, but somehow youve crossed everything off your initial to-do list, and your son or daughter is set. Maybe he is now firmly ensconced in an Early Intervention program, and youve already booked the eight million school evaluations required to get him into a pre-school program. Perhaps your daughter is older and has just entered a classroom, spent a few weeks there and is doing well. Youve dotted your Is and crossed your Ts, and for once theres no phone call to make, no appointment to schedule. Youve gotten the help your child needs.
And perhaps as youre enjoying a latte , you wonder whats next.
First of all, make sure you savor the moment. Take the time to celebrate your successful navigation of your states Early Intervention system or your school districts IEP team, and give yourself about twenty hugs and buy yourself a little something fun.
Then take a deep breath, gird your loins, and move on to the next phase of your life with an autistic child.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Autism
The signs and symptoms of autism are mostly visible by the age of three in a person. Some of the signs point at the disorder in a person a bit later whereas some other signs are distinctively noticeable much earlier.
These signs are the first indications of autism in a child. Hence, it is important to be aware of the earliest signs or symptoms of the disorder to recognize the problem at the earliest and to enable suitable action and treatment.
The first and earliest signs that hint at the disorder in a person include absence of certain common actions or characteristics in a child at a particular age. It is normal for a child to start
Autism In The Teen Years: What To Expect How To Help
What parent doesn’t watch their “tween” become a teen without a twinge of anxiety? Factor autism into the equation, and parents may well wonder how the physical and hormonal changes of adolescence will affect their child on the spectrum.
How will typical teenage rebellion look in someone who struggles with behavioral control? What will it be like traversing the social minefield of high school for someone with a social disability?
Many a teen boy has had to be convinced of the need for daily showers and shaving. How do you convince someone who has sensory problems to stand under water or drag a sharp razor across his face?
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Behavioural Therapies And Supports
Behavioural therapies and supports for autistic children use specialised, structured techniques to help children learn new behaviours and skills. These therapies and supports are generally referred to as Applied Behaviour Analysis approaches.
Many of these therapies and supports use specialised behaviour techniques along with other strategies. And different therapies and supports use the techniques in different ways. For example, Discrete Trial Training works on childrens behaviour by breaking behaviour skills down into steps. It looks different from the Early Start Denver Model, which builds behaviour techniques into childrens play.
Research has shown that ABA approaches work. But theres also some controversy about ABA. Some members of the autism community feel that ABA sometimes aims to stop behaviours like flapping or stimming, which can be calming or enjoyable for autistic people.
Examples of behavioural therapies and supports include:
Occupational Therapy And Sensory Integration Therapy
Traditional occupational therapy often is provided to promote development of self-care skills and academic skills . Occupational therapists also may assist in promoting development of play skills, modifying classroom materials and routines to improve attention and organization, and providing prevocational training. However, research regarding the efficacy of occupational therapy in ASDs is lacking. Sensory integration therapy often is used alone or as part of a broader program of occupational therapy for children with ASDs. The goal of SI therapy is not to teach specific skills or behaviors but to remediate deficits in neurologic processing and integration of sensory information to allow the child to interact with the environment in a more adaptive fashion. Unusual sensory responses are common in children with ASDs, but there is not good evidence that these symptoms differentiate ASDs from other developmental disorders, and the efficacy of SI therapy has not been demonstrated objectively. Available studies are plagued by methodologic limitations, but proponents of SI note that higher-quality SI research is forthcoming. Sensory activities may be helpful as part of an overall program that uses desired sensory experiences to calm the child, reinforce a desired behavior, or help with transitions between activities.
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Therapies Covered By School Or Insurance
Autism therapies, when paid for out of pocket, can be prohibitively expensive. Top-notch therapists can charge $60 to $100 an hour , and many therapies are most effective when provided for many hours a week. For many families, the “best” autism therapies are those that are both available and free or low-cost.
While there are dozens of autism therapies, only a few are provided through schools or paid for through medical insurance. While these are not necessarily the only effective therapies they are, for obvious reasons, the most popular. If you’re low on funds, these therapies can be the best available. Often, in combination with other treatment types, they can be quite effective.
Onset Of Autism: Early Onset Vs Regression
Autism develops sometime during pregnancy and the first three years of life. Some parents report that their child seemed different at birth. These children are referred to as having early-onset autism. Other parents report that their child seemed to develop normally and then had a major regression resulting in autism, usually around 12-24 months. These children are referred to as having late-onset or regressive autism. Some researchers argue that the regression is not real or the autism was simply unnoticed by the childs parents. However, many parents report that their children were completely normal until sometime between 1 and 2 years of age.
A study published in 2003, conducted by the first author, compared 53 autistic children with 48 typical peers. The parents of the early-onset autism group reported a significant delay in reaching developmental milestones, including age of crawling , sitting up , walking , and talking . Thus, there appeared to be a delay in gross motor skills as well as of talking, so many children with autism also need physical therapy. In contrast, the late-onset autism group reached developmental milestones at the same time as typical children.
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Tip : Find Help And Support
Caring for a child with ASD can demand a lot of energy and time. There may be days when you feel overwhelmed, stressed, or discouraged. Parenting isnt ever easy, and raising a child with special needs is even more challenging. In order to be the best parent you can be, its essential that you take care of yourself.
Dont try to do everything on your own. You dont have to! There are many places that families of children with ASD can turn to for advice, a helping hand, advocacy, and support:
ADS support groups Joining an ASD support group is a great way to meet other families dealing with the same challenges you are. Parents can share information, get advice, and lean on each other for emotional support. Just being around others in the same boat and sharing their experience can go a long way toward reducing the isolation many parents feel after receiving a childs diagnosis.
Respite care Every parent needs a break now and again. And for parents coping with the added stress of ASD, this is especially true. In respite care, another caregiver takes over temporarily, giving you a break for a few hours, days, or even weeks.
Antidepressant And Anxiety Medications
Common challenges for children with autism include persistent anxiety or obsessive behaviors. These behaviors, such as avoiding or running away from new or unknown situations, separation anxiety, or compulsive checking or washing behaviors, cause big problems in day-to-day life. Anxiety is often associated with strict black-and-white thinking, a combination that can be a trigger for explosive behaviors. Children with autism are also at risk for developing depression, another family of symptoms that sometimes become severe enough to require medication.
For these symptoms, the most commonly prescribed medications for children are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors , such as sertraline or fluoxetine . Some of these medications have been studied and approved for use with children, although not specifically for autism. This group of medications may help with mood, anxiety, or obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. As with most mental health medications, side effects should be closely monitored.
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Is There A Cure For Autism
Autism cannot be cured with a treatment, intervention, or medication. But various therapies can help many children improve social and communication skills, reduce repetitive behaviors, and function well in daily life.
Assessing the success of treatment is complicated by the diverse experiences of those on the spectrum. Some may have mild social discomfort, embrace routine and stability, or leverage their passion into a career. Others may have an intellectual disability or struggle with violent outbursts. Most fall somewhere in between. The success of treatment can vary with the condition.
What’s It Like To Have Autism Spectrum Disorder
ASD affects different people in different ways. Some people can’t speak or learn. Their behavior may seem strange; they may avoid other people; they may pace and move their bodies in unusual ways, like flapping their hands. They may repeat lines from TV shows or movies.
People with less severe ASD are able to talk and learn. But they may have trouble:
- expressing feelings. They may seem cold and distant.
- understanding the feelings of others.;They may ignore or misunderstand how other people might feel or behave in a situation.
- reading social cues. They might not understand body language or facial expression; they stand too close; they ignore signs of boredom or frustration.
- handling sensory information. Loud noises, bright lights, or crowds may bother them.
- handling a new routine. It might be hard for them to sit in a different seat or having a substitute teacher.
Some might get get super-focused on a single topic or hobby, some of which may be unusual .
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