Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental and neurotypical disorder which is diagnosed quite commonly in individuals around the world. The disorder entails several challenges or symptoms that show up at early childhood and may last throughout life. Its symptoms include language comprehension deficit, difficulty in social interaction, and understanding social cues such as body language or voice tone, self-abusive behaviours such as head-banging, etc. Also, the child may lack eye contact, prefer to have a rigid routine, and develop speech later than others of their age.
These symptoms may differ depending upon the severity of the disorder in the child. It’s imperative to ensure that only a certified and experienced child psychiatrist performs the diagnosis. In case the diagnosis is positive, starting the treatment and therapies as early as possible is for the best of the child. Here are some therapies and treatments that can help treat ASD.
Treatments and Therapies That Help Treat Autism
1. ABA (Applied behavior analysis): This is one of the most commonly practiced therapy for individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum disorder, ADHD, PTSD, Panic disorder and others. It consists of numerous techniques that use the reward system to encourage requisite positive behavior. This may include DTT, or discrete trial training that involves a set trial series executed to push step by step learning.
Another type of ABA is Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention. In this, the child therapist works with a small group of children who are generally less than 5 years old, to help reduce unwanted behavior, build communication skills, etc. Also, there is positive behavior support, verbal behavior intervention and pivotal response training that are a part of ABA.
2. Structured Learning: Children with ASD think and comprehend differently as compared to other children. Structured learning can help those with ASD improve in academics, communication, social-emotional skills, and other related challenging areas. Structured learning is a part of special education via which teaching strategies are first framed by taking in view the impact of Autism on the behavior, learning and thinking of the individual and then these are implemented. For instance, cognitive skills can be worked upon through pattern building, problem-solving, identification and labelling, etc. This can be practiced using flashcards, blocks and puzzles.
3. CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy): Also known as Talk therapy, CBT helps to enable people to effectively manage their challenges and problems by altering their thinking process and behaviors. In this, a child therapist helps and encourages individuals to understand their own thoughts, emotions and behaviors and how they impact each other. For instance, if a child with ASD is triggered each time he/she is in a crowded place. Having this understanding and realisation through Cognitive Behavioral therapy offers several benefits such as it helps decrease anxiety levels in those diagnosed with ASD, aids them in handling stressful situations and changes their maladaptive beliefs or negative thoughts.
4. Occupational Therapy: This is another popularly used therapy that is helpful in promoting, maintaining and developing active participation of the child having special needs. In this, an occupational therapist follows a holistic approach and considering it, he/she creates programmes. The child’s cognitive, sensory, emotional, social and physical needs and present abilities are closely analysed for this. Taking these into consideration, the therapists work on basic everyday skill enhancement and development. For instance, the occupational therapist may recommend one to modify the child’s room environment so as to help them catch some good sleep.
5. Speech Therapy: A child with ASD may have several speech and communication difficulties. For instance, the child may repeat continuously what the other person says, without understanding the right usage of the word or phrase or talk in a musical way. He/she can find it challenging to hold a conversation or understand body language. All of such issues and related challenges can be worked upon and improved with the help of a speech therapist.
The speech therapist identifies the areas in which the child lags and create specific goals as per the child’s developmental needs. With consistent efforts, substantial improvement can be seen in the child. For instance, if a child doesn’t understand the appropriate place, time and way to start a conversation, he/she can be taught to say “Hi” or a “Good morning” to start a conversation with greetings.
6. Play Therapy: Play therapy can be an effective way to encourage the development or enhancement of social-communication skills in a child, which may be underdeveloped in those diagnosed with Autism. A child therapist or play therapist may practice floor time and engage the child in a handful of activities and tasks. For example, the play therapist may set several toys on the floor and wait for the child to pick the one that catches their interest. Next, the child therapist may take the toy away from the child, thus putting the child in a situation where they may try to non-verbally or verbally respond to get back the toy. Over the sessions, the child therapist may work on abstract thinking, imaginative, reciprocal and other skills of the child, depending upon the requirements.
Unfortunately, living with Autism is not easy as there may be several age-appropriate developmental milestones of a child that are yet to be achieved. However, as a parent or a caregiver of a child with special needs, try to get a hold over your emotions and stay strong for your child. Also, one needs to remember that they aren’t the only person dealing with this, as there are several other parents who have a special child. Try to connect with communities of parents as that may be helpful in finding ways to help your child. Also, with the help of treatments and therapies mentioned, you’d be able to see positive changes in your child’s development. So, reach out to a child therapist or an Autism treatment centre near you to encourage your child to thrive.
Akshay Sharma is a writer who loves sharing views on health and food topics. He is constantly in search of new articles and posts on topics related to health and its branches.