Autism Treatment Options

Photo: ABA therapist working with a girlIf you are the parent of a child with autism, you may be wondering what types of treatment options are available. Today, professionals are better educated about this condition and have a more focused plan in place for treatment. Specialty services like applied behavior analysis help care teams understand the individual needs of each patient and create a treatment scenario around them. The goal is to improve how the child interacts with the world, so he or she can live up to their full potential.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

The variables that factor into a diagnosis and treatment plan for autism vary for each person and they can change over time. Applied behavior analysis uses positive reinforcement to improve communication, social skills and self-help opportunities based on a study of what that child needs.

ABA therapy for autism is backed by decades of research proving it effective. A team of providers works with families to develop techniques that increase the useful behaviors and reduce the incidents of harmful or distracting ones.

Applied behavior analysis is recognized as a safe and effective way to bring about positive changes in behavior. It is endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General and most state and federal agencies. Through ABA treatment, those on the autism spectrum can develop basic skills like:

-Looking

-Listening

-Imitating

-Reading

-Conversing

With this treatment option, your child learns to understand the perspective of others and react positively to it.

Specialized Therapy

Most autism treatment plans will involve at least three specialized therapies:

-Speech

-Occupational

-Physical

The need for each depends on the severity of the disorder. Speech therapy helps improve communication and social skills, as well as expand language opportunities. With occupational and physical therapy, the child can improve coordination and motor skills and learn to process information from all senses.

Another possibility is sensory integration therapy. This helps the autistic patient deal with potentially overwhelming sensations like sounds, smells and lights.

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

PECS is a communication treatment system for autism patients that have trouble with verbalization. The system uses pictures to teach communication skills and to hold a conversation

Dietary Treatments

Many individuals with autism have gastrointestinal problems, so diet is a concern, but there are also forms of therapy based on it. They call for the patient to avoid certain foods like yeast or gluten. They may introduce dietary supplements, as well. The plans work on a theory that food allergies and lack of key vitamins may cause autism symptoms. There is no clinical evidence to support that claim, but some children do appear to respond to dietary changes.

There is currently no drug treatment available for autism and no cure. Applied behavior analysis combined with specific therapies offers the most hope for improvement. By customizing the treatment plan using these techniques, individuals living on the spectrum have a chance at a fulfilling life.