What are the treatment options for autism?
Depending on the severity of the diagnosis, there are a variety of treatment options available for children with autism. However, there is no cure for autism. The most effective forms of treatment are behavioural interventions that begin at an early age in order to better the outlook for the child.
Therapies to help improve the behaviour of autistic children are used worldwide, helping the children to effectively communicate, talk and develop physically in order to interact with other people.
These programs, called Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), try to encourage positive actions and show children the difference between positive and negative actions. Instructors may also use picture cards for visual cues.
It is important to find a school that is willing to help or one that is specifically designed for autistic children. These implement speech therapy and also develop specific lessons and programs for the child. It is always best to try and get the best care and education possible for a child with autism in order for them to learn and grow in a way that is appropriate for them and not overwhelming or traumatic, therefore allowing them to be in an environment that is accepting and understanding of their condition.
There is no specific medication for autism, however, medication can play a role in improving some of the symptoms of the disorder. Antipsychotic medication aids in aggressive and more serious behavioural problems while antidepressant drugs can assist patients experiencing mood swings and depression in some cases. However, a child’s response to any medication should always be closely monitored.
Sensory Integrational Treatment
As previously discussed, autistic children may react aggressively or strangely to sounds, taste, touch, smells and sights – this is quite similar to a condition known as sensory integration disorder. A recent study has shown that children who learn to deal with their reactions to their environment, such as being frightened by loud noises for example, and are helped to adjust to specific surroundings, have had fewer autistic characteristics than others.
Assistive Technology Treatment
Technology such as specific programs and apps have been designed for autistic children and help aid nonverbal children with autism in their communication with others. One such program is Tap to Talk, an expensive but well worth it application available for most tablets and smart phones. It allows autistic children to type in what they want to say, which the app will then pronounce verbally for them, this helps them with pronunciation and communication. Tablets and computers alone can also act as platforms to help children to learn and develop their abilities with visual cues and more. Games and puzzles on these platforms also help to engage cognitive functions and patience.
Autistic children may also suffer from digestive issues and about 30% of diagnosed children may resort to eating non-food items such as sand, paper or dirt.
This is known as the disorder pica – the unusual craving to eat items such as clay, dirt or clay. Autistic children tend to eat these sorts of items in an attempt to understand and explore their environment.
It is sometimes beneficial to include supplements such as magnesium, aiding in muscle functions and calcium balance and vitamin B6 to help protect the immune system in the diet of an autistic child.
However, there is no evidence as yet that shows a drastic improvement in the symptoms of autism due to a specific diet. But, it is always beneficial to follow a good nutritional plan as directed by your doctor.