Therapy Options For Children With Autism
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), commonly referred to as autism, refers to a range of neurodevelopmental conditions that affect a child’s ability to communicate or interact with other people and behave appropriately in social situations. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in every 160 children has autism.
A child with ASD shows impairment in communication or social skills and repetitive or restricted behavior. Some may also show an unusual response to sensory signals. For example, they may tend to avoid bright lights.
Researchers and scientists have conducted many studies on this disorder. However, there is still no single cure for ASD. However, some therapies can help reduce symptoms. To properly address the said symptoms, it is crucial to diagnose the problem as early as possible.
Therapies aim to improve the patients’ abilities and alleviate the effects of the symptoms. The chances of success can improve the earlier you start medical therapy for autism. However, do not think that it may be too late for your child to start. An early start can help, but it does not mean that you have to give up if you were not able to make your child undergo therapy early.
Perhaps one of the most effective therapies for children with autism, according to parents, is occupational therapy. Through the activities that this therapy promotes, children can learn to do everyday tasks. From simple tasks like holding a fork properly to school-, play-, or work-related activities, the therapist will adjust the focus depending on the needs of your child. Therapists base every occupational therapy program on the individual evaluations and goals of patients.
The good thing about occupational therapy is that it targets the treatment of sensory integration issues, which is often associated with ASD. Through this, your child can also learn life skills that involve the use of motor movements.
One aspect that ASD affects is communication. Speech therapy helps children with autism with their speaking, communication, and interaction skills. This form of therapy does not only include verbal communication, but it also covers non-verbal skills. A licensed speech pathologist will help your child learn to express his wants and needs in a better way. However, it is necessary to note that parents, other family members, and teachers should work with the speech pathologist for this therapy to be effective.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
In this therapy, parents or caregivers receive training on how to give the child with autism moment-by-moment feedback. It also uses reinforcement or rewards for positive behaviors and when teaching a new skill. The goals of the treatment will depend on the patient. This therapy may include communication, personal care, and social skills. There are various types of ABA.
- Discrete Trial Training (DTT)
This ABA is when one breaks down the teaching of a skill or behavior in smaller steps. It also uses rewards or prompts for every step.
- Early intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI)
EIBI is for younger children who have ASD. These children are usually under the age of five.
- Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT)
This variation aims to increase the motivation of a child to learn, monitor his or her behavior, or initiate communication with other people. The focus of this ABA is on the key areas of a child’s development, including social, play, and language skills.
- Verbal Behavioral Intervention
This ABA aims to improve the verbal skills of a child with ASD.
When we hear of physical therapy, we often think of treating injuries. However, it can also help improve the gross motor skills of a child with ASD. This therapy can also teach children to handle issues on sensory integration. Like occupational therapy, this treatment also helps improve an individual’s ability to participate in various everyday activities.
Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
Some parents opt to use PECS as a form of therapy. PECS is a system that is suitable for those who do not speak, those who cannot understand, and those who are having difficulty understanding. During therapy, children trade pictures for activities or items. People who tried PECS said they saw improvements in communication. However, some said they did not see positive effects on speech.
Some pharmaceutical medicine can help alleviate some behavioral symptoms that people with ASD show. Among these symptoms are irritability, aggression, and behavior that lead to self-injuries. However, medications require the prescription and monitoring of a qualified physician.
Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy replaces diseased cells with healthy, new cells. One of the main symptoms of ASD is inflammation. Thus, the ability of some types of stem cells to reduce inflammation can help. There are two ways that one can choose from when using this medical therapy for autism – bone marrow and umbilical cord.