There are few treatments or therapies available for treating autism spectrum disorder namely Behaviour and Communication Approaches, Dietary Approaches, Complementary and Alternate Approaches and finally Yoga Therapy. One must note that these therapies do not guarantee 100% results. At best they can improve the condition, but not completely eradicate it. Also, there are prescribed medications available for treating some of the symptoms such as depression, high energy levels and attention deficit.
Various types of treatments for autism are available now. These treatments can be broadly included into these treatments which include
Behaviour and Communication Approaches: Behaviour and Communication Approach as it is broadly called, includes the best approaches that help children with autism spectrum disorders with a direction and structure.
- Applied Behaviour Analysis: One of the very popular methods includes ABA or Applied Behaviour Analysis. ABA is being adopted by health care professionals and many schools. Under this method, positive behaviour are encouraged and negative behaviours are discouraged. ABA includes sub-types such as Discrete Trial Training, Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention, Pivotal Response Training and Verbal Behaviour Intervention.
- Developmental, Individual Responses: This treatment is basically focused on parents and caretakers. The focus is on the relationship that the parents or the caretakers share with the child and on the sights, sounds and smells that the child experiences.
- Occupational Therapy: Occupational Therapy uses techniques which teach the autistic person to live an independent life. Skills taught in this therapy include how to dress, how to eat, how to bathe and how to communicate and relate with people.
- Sensory Integration Therapy: Under Sensory Integration Therapy focuses on integrating incoming sensory information which includes sights, sounds, smells and perhaps touch. Sensory Integration helps in coordinating between sounds, sights, smells and touch that most of the time keep bothering autistic children.
- Speech Therapy: Speech Therapy is needed for certain autistic people. Speech therapy focuses on improving the person’s communication skills.
- Dietary Approaches: Dietary approaches are at present unproven due to lack of scientific evidence. Though, some of the dietary changes have been advocated by experts, they are still unproven. In certain cases, both parents and dieticians feel that disorders like ASDs surface due to malnutrition of vitamins and minerals. As we know, vitamins and minerals play a major role in brain development. Hence, dietary supplements are suggested in most cases. Also, in some cases, ASD is believed to develop because of the parents’ reluctance in giving fruits and vegetables due to fear of allergies. Another diet restriction that many parents implement is Gluten Free and Casein Free diet for autistic children. While there is no conclusive or statistically important proof about gluten and casein free diet improving the condition in autism, yet parents implement this due to many purported success stories. Consult your paediatrician, if you are concerned about the diet of your child.
- Complementary and Alternative Medicine: The trend of using complementary and alternative medicine is on the rise. Some of the common types of treatment include removal of heavy metals from the body, use of biologicals, special diets and body based systems. Some of these treatments are controversial and dangerous in nature and hence, consult your doctor and read varied literature on ASD first before going ahead for such treatments.
Yoga Therapy: In the recent years, yoga is also being considered as a viable complimentary therapy for autism spectrum disorders. Although, this particular yoga therapy was designed for children suffering with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Learning Disabilities, Pervasive Developmental Delay, Sensory Integration Dysfunction, Dyspraxia, and other motor based disorders, the therapy was also best suited for Autism Spectrum Disorders. So far, clinical trials showed consistent and better results. (Kenny, 2008). Apart from clinical trials, procedures in yoga therapy have been formulated with yogic postures for warm up, strengthening, release of tension and calming. (Betts, Yoga for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders). Do not forget to consult a certified Yoga instructor for further details.
Actions to be taken by parents
Parents need to take certain actions as soon as they observe any or at least few symptoms of autism. These include
- Keep a close eye on your child’s development: It is good to observe the child for autism related issues. These issues include social and communication skills that he or she develops during the first two years. Any deviation from normal behaviour is good enough for checking.
- Take appropriate action: There is no need to worry if your child starts a little late such as late crawling or standing up late. But, if the trend continues with no babbling till 15 months of age and speaking only two letter words till 24 months of age are a concern and you immediately need to consult your paediatrician and a child psychologist, if required.
- Do not procrastinate: Procrastination or neglect can make the matters worse for your baby. Prompt action is required because in autism spectrum, the sooner the detection, the better the chances for your baby to lead a normal life. Problems such as these would not be solved automatically with age. But, they would worsen with age
Can autism be cured?
Right now, there is no definitive proof that autism can be cured. Instances of autistic children who do not meet the criteria for diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder have later been diagnosed of attention deficit, hyperactivity disorder, anxiety disorder or Asperger’s syndrome. So, the level of diagnosis, the methods of treatment and the end results are still being evaluated to know whether or not autism is fully cured or it takes another form in the future. The numbers are pretty uncertain as to how many people lose their symptoms and go on to lead a normal life.