Therapies that Can Help with Autism
A variety of therapy can help autistic persons become more capable and experience fewer symptoms. It is never too late to begin therapy, but starting early — in preschool or earlier — boosts your child’s chances of success.
Instead, then waiting for a formal diagnosis, parents should look into therapies as soon as they have a suspicion that their child has autism. Obtaining an official diagnosis can take a lot of time, examinations, and professional follow-ups.
What functions differently for different people? The following list includes some of the most well-known and effective treatments:
1. Play Therapy
Autism-related children frequently play differently from typical children. Instead of the entire toy, they’ll probably concentrate on its component elements, like its wheels. Like other kids, they engage in “believe play.” They can also not want to play with other people.
Play therapy can help children develop their social and emotional abilities, think creatively, enhance their language and communication skills, and find new ways to interact with others and play with objects.
Play therapy can take many different forms and it can be beneficial for children with ASD:
- A frequent kind of play therapy is floortime. Get on the floor with your child to play with them on their terms, whether it’s you, a teacher, or a therapist. You participate by playing in the same manner as your youngster and then adding something. A new toy or a few words could be added to the game to include language. To encourage greater communication between you and your child and to give their play a fresh element, try to develop a play that involves both of you. They should learn how to better focus their thoughts and experience emotional growth as a result. For Floortime, your kid can attend up to 25 hours of weekly therapy sessions with a therapist, or you and your child can do this at home. According to studies, the majority of kids who receive Floortime therapy for 25 hours a week for two years or more develop better in all developmental domains. Just a few kids with ASD are included in each group.
- Adult role models provide the mood for play, but eventually, the kids take control. If your child takes part in IPGs, they may begin to pretend to play more frequently over time and will have many opportunities to develop their social skills while interacting with other children. IPGs can meet once a week for up to three hours. According to research, children with ASD who participated in two 30-minute IPG sessions per week for four months exhibited improvements in the quality of their play, how they used their toys, and how well they interacted with their classmates.
- Your youngster may be able to focus on a person and a toy more effectively using the JASPER (joint attention symbolic play engagement and regulation) technique. They can play with other kids more easily if their joint attention abilities develop. The JASPER program can also support your kids in developing their pretend play, toy play, social interaction, and other social skills. The therapist and the child receiving JASPER therapy frequently have one-on-one sessions. JASPER is occasionally made available in preschool settings. Up to 25 hours a week of this kind of therapy are possible for kids. Within a few weeks, you might see your child picking up new skills. While playing, kids could converse more. Or, rather than just spinning the wheels, they might be “driving” cars down a ramp. Depending on their needs, this kind of therapy may last for months or even years.
The location of play therapy
You can request a recommendation from your doctor for a play therapist in your area. The Association for Play Therapy’s play therapist directory offers online search capabilities as well.
2. Occupational Therapy
The usage of everyday objects and tasks of daily living, such as learning to button a shirt or handle a fork correctly, are assisted by occupational therapy. However, it may involve anything having to do with work, pleasure, or school. The child’s requirements and objectives will determine the focus.
What is the role of an occupational therapist?
A team of professionals, including parents, teachers, and other professionals, includes occupational therapists. They aid in establishing precise objectives for the autistic individual. These objectives frequently centre on conduct, social engagement, and academic success.
Evaluation and therapy are the two basic ways that occupational therapists can assist.
The therapist observes kids to see if they are capable of performing actions that are appropriate for their age, such as dressing themselves or playing a game.
The therapist may occasionally record the child throughout the day to observe how they interact with others and their environment.
This aids the therapist in figuring out what kind of care the youngster requires. The therapist may pay particular attention to:
- Attention span and stamina
- Transition to new activities
- Play skills
- Need for personal space
- Responses to touch or other kinds of stimuli
- Motor skills like posture, balance, or manipulation of small objects
- Aggression or other types of behaviours
- Interactions between the child and caregivers
3. Speech Therapy
Speech and nonverbal communication can be extremely difficult for those with ASD. They could also struggle greatly to engage in social interactions.
For these reasons, speech therapy is a crucial component of autism treatment. It aids kids with communicating and engaging with others, as well as speaking.
Making eye contact, switching roles during a discussion, employing gestures, and comprehending them are examples of nonverbal abilities that can be included. Additionally, it might educate kids on how to communicate with computers, sign language, or graphic symbols.
What speech and communication problems do people with autism typically have?
A third of autistic individuals have difficulty making speech sounds to properly interact with others.
An autistic person may:
- Not talk at all
- Utter grunts, cries, shrieks, or throaty, harsh sounds
- Hum or talk in a musical way
- Babble with word-like sounds
- Use foreign-sounding “words” or robotic-like speech
- Parrot or often repeat what another person says (called echolalia)
- Use the right phrases and sentences, but with an inexpressive tone of voice
Other communication difficulties that an autistic person may experience include:
- Problems with eye contact and gestures during speaking
- Having difficulty understanding words outside of their original context
- Memorizing what you hear without understanding what was spoken
- Using echolalia, or repeating aloud what someone else is saying, as the primary form of communication
- Insufficient comprehension of the meanings of words or symbols
- Lack of originality in language
Autism requires more from a youngster than just learning to talk. The child must also learn how to communicate through language. That entails having conversational skills.
It also entails recognizing verbal and nonverbal signs from other individuals, such as body language, tone of voice, and facial emotions.
What function does speech therapy serve in autism treatment?
Therapists with a focus on treating speech and language impairments include speech-language pathologists. They play a significant role in the autism treatment program.
Speech therapists frequently take the lead in assisting with the diagnosis of autism and providing referrals to other specialists thanks to early screening and identification. Speech therapists determine the most effective techniques to enhance communication.
With the family, the school, and other professionals, the speech-language pathologist collaborates closely. Alternatives to speech may be introduced by the speech therapist if the autistic person is nonverbal or has significant communication difficulties, such as:
- Electronic “talkers”
- Signing or typing
- Using pictures instead of words to help a child learn to communicate
- Improving articulation of speech by massaging or exercising lips or facial muscles
- Having people sing songs that match the rhythm, emphasis, and flow of sentences
More research has been done on some of these techniques than on others. The speech-language pathologist and your child’s paediatrician should be fully informed about them.
What advantages can speech therapy offer ASD sufferers?
Communication in general can be improved through speech therapy. This enables individuals with autism to enhance their capacity for social interaction and daily functioning.
One of the specific objectives of speech therapy is to assist the autistic person with:
- Articulate words well
- Communicate both verbally and nonverbally
- Understanding verbal and nonverbal communication, and what other people mean in different settings
- Start communication without prompting from others
- Know the appropriate time and place to communicate something; for example, when to say “good morning”
- Grow conversation skills
- Exchange ideas
- Communicate in ways to develop relationships
- Enjoy communicating, playing, and interacting with other
- Learn self-control
When is the ideal time to begin autism speech therapy?
It is best to begin speech treatment as soon as possible. Before age 3, autism spectrum disorder is typically evident. Early detection of language deficits is possible as early as 18 months. Autism can sometimes be diagnosed as early as 10 to 12 months of age. Speech therapy should be started as soon as possible because its effects are greatest when they are first felt.
Two out of every three pre-schoolers with autism have better communication abilities and a better understanding of spoken language with early identification and treatment.
Therapies for Autism Spectrum Disorder
Each child should receive treatment that is tailored to their individual needs because every child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has different symptoms. Children with ASD can benefit from a range of therapeutic approaches that have been proven to enhance their learning, communication, and social skills.
1. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
One of the most well-liked treatments for kids with autism spectrum disorder is this one. Although older children with ASD can also benefit, ABA training is most successful if therapy begins when children are younger than age 5.
ABA serves to control problematic behaviour and aids in the teaching of social, physical, linguistic, and thinking abilities. It is predicated on the observation and encouragement of learning these abilities.
Your child will require significant one-on-one therapy for an average of 25 hours per week in order to benefit from applied behavior analysis the most. The cost of this intense therapy is a disadvantage.
The best ABA training results come from receiving your own ABA training. In this manner, you can instruct your youngster and continuously praise good behavior. It requires a lot of talent to use it properly and takes a lot of time. However, it will assist your youngster in applying the knowledge they have gained. Additionally, it will lessen your child’s chance of engaging in harmful or undesirable activities.
2. Relationship Development Intervention (RDI)
A brand-new treatment for autism spectrum condition is called RDI training. Although it can be helpful for people of all ages, the treatment’s creators believe that RDI training is most effective when children begin therapy at a young age. Children that receive RDI instruction will learn how to think creatively and interact socially. RDI training typically starts by assisting kids in forging bonds with their parents and other family members. It is quite similar to other ASD therapies in that it concentrates on the primary lack of the condition, which is social interaction and abilities.
Its success depends on the involvement of the parents. Parents are instructed on how to turn any occasion into “teachable moments.” These opportunities to interact with your child and help them develop more suitable social skills.
Since RDI training is still in its infancy, there isn’t much clinical data to support its efficacy. However, research done by the product’s creators revealed that kids receiving RDI treatment significantly improved. You’ll need to invest time in seminars or viewing videos to learn how to give your child an efficient intervention program if you want to give them RDI training. This education for you can take a lot of time and cost a lot of money.
A qualified RDI program consultant will need regular access to you, and you’ll need to agree to regularly videotape your child’s interactions with others.
3. Sensory Integration and Related Therapies
Many kids with ASD struggle with their senses. Some people are excessively sensitive to stimuli like light, sound, and touch. Others don’t show enough emotion.
Many different therapies have been effective in treating kids with an autism spectrum disorder. Despite the fact that these therapies can be helpful, there is no evidence to support the use of sensory therapies in the treatment of the illness. One-on-one sessions with a kid are conducted by therapists trained in providing sensory therapy for ASD. The intention is to control how the youngster responds to outside stimuli.
For instance, the therapist will strive to gradually desensitise the child if they are very sensitive to touch. To help the youngster become acclimated to the sensations, the therapist may vigorously brush the child’s skin with various textured textiles.
The child’s therapist makes an effort to make the activities fun and game-like for them. In this way, they won’t find sensory therapy to be too much for them.
The therapist pushes their limits to aid in their improvement, but they are not compelled to do anything.
Children with ASD may benefit from a variety of sensory therapies to help with a range of issues. For instance, some children’s hyperactivity can be reduced by spinning in a chair. Swinging, vibratory treatment, and aerobic activity are examples of other sensory therapies.
It may be necessary for you and your child’s therapist to test out various therapy approaches to see which ones aid in your child’s improvement. Your child’s developmental paediatrician or neurologist may also be able to advise you.
What Are the Autism Treatments?
Your child may still benefit from some treatments even if they haven’t been given an official diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.
Depending on their specific needs, your child’s autism spectrum condition treatment will vary. There are various therapies for ASD because it is a spectrum disorder (some children with it have minor symptoms, while others have severe symptoms) and because every child with it is different.
They may include various forms of therapy to enhance behaviour and speech, as well as occasionally drugs to help treat any underlying medical disorders associated with autism.
The treatments that will help your child the most will depend on their needs and situation, but the end result will always be the same: to lessen their symptoms and enhance their learning and development.
Behavior and Communication Treatments
- Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
To teach your child desirable behaviors and lessen bad ones, ABA is frequently utilized in clinics and educational settings. There are various variants of this strategy for various scenarios that can be used to develop a variety of talents, including
- Positive reinforcement and straightforward lessons used in discrete trial training (DTT).
- Pivotal response training (PRT) promotes the growth of communication and learning motivation.
- For children under the age of five, early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) is recommended.
- VBI, or verbal behavior intervention, emphasizes linguistic abilities.
- Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship-Based Approach (DIR)
Floortime is the name of this type of therapy. That’s because you both get down on the ground and play and engage in their favorite activities.
By assisting children in developing communication and emotional literacy skills, it aims to boost both their emotional and intellectual development.
Children with autism and other communication disabilities are treated and educated (TEACCH). This therapy uses visual clues, like picture cards, to teach your kid practical tasks like dressing themselves.
For easier learning, information is divided up into manageable steps.
- Photographic Exchange Communication System (PECS).
Another graphic approach, except in this case symbols are used in place of picture cards. Your youngster learns to pose inquiries and express themselves using particular symbols.
- Occupational Therapy
Your child will benefit from this type of care as they learn how to take care of themselves, bathe, and grasp how to interact with others. The abilities kids acquire are designed to enable them to live as independently as possible.
- Therapy for Sensory Integration.
This therapy can assist your kid in learning how to cope with sensory input if they are easily distressed by things like bright lights, specific sounds, or the sensation of being touched.
There is no known treatment for autism spectrum disorder, nor is there a cure. However, some drugs can treat linked symptoms like depression, seizures, sleeplessness, and difficulty concentrating. According to studies, the medicine works best when it is paired with behavioural therapy.
The only medication the FDA has approved for use in children with autism spectrum disorder is risperidone (Risperdal). It can be given to kids between the ages of 5 and 16 to aid with irritability.
Other medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), anti-anxiety meds, or stimulants, may be prescribed by some doctors in particular circumstances, but they are not FDA-approved for autism spectrum disorder.
For kids with autism spectrum conditions, experts do not advise any particular diets, but providing the right nutrition is crucial. Sometimes parents attempt to remove foods like gluten from the diets of children with ASD to see if the symptoms get better.
The removal of gluten or casein (proteins found in wheat and milk products) from their diet, however, has not been scientifically demonstrated to be a successful treatment for ASD and restricting certain foods, like dairy, can interfere with healthy bone growth.
Bone-building foods are crucial because children with autism spectrum disorder frequently have thinner bones than children without the disease. To create a healthy eating plan, you might want to consult a qualified dietitian or nutritionist.