Although there is no cure for Autism Spectrum Disorder, there are a wide range of treatments available to help reduce your child’s symptoms and increase their development.

Early Intervention

Research has shown that early intervention services from birth to 3 years can significantly improve a child’s development. These services include helping your child talk, walk, interact with others, and learn other important skills. Therefore, it is important to get your child screened as early as possible if there are any concerns. In the US, every child is entitled to a free developmental screening. Although early intervention can be extremely helpful, intervention at any age can help your child learn necessary skills and abilities.

Types of Interventions

 

  •  One of the most common therapeutic approaches for children with ASD is applied behavior analysis (ABA). It aims to reinforce positive behaviors and discourage negative ones and is widely used in many schools and autism treatment clinics. ABA therapy focuses on verbal behavior and pivotal response training by using one on one training with a professional. The goal of verbal behavior interventions are to move children away from just echoing language to functional communication (NIMH). Pivotal Response Training identifies certain key skills (such as initiation and self-management) that affect behavioral responses. Other types of therapy include occupational therapy, which teaches the skills necessary to help a person perform independent actions such as eating, dressing, and bathing. Speech therapy is designed to help improve a person’s communication skills. Sensory Integration Therapy helps people deal with sensory information such as sounds, sight, and touch (ie. if a child is bothered by loud sounds or doesn’t like to be touched).
  •  It has been found that children with ASD react positively to structured educational programs. Parents support educational programs by interacting with their children in a structured environment at home in a way that promotes social interaction and behavior management (Mayo).
  •  According to the CDC, there have been dietary interventions developed by therapists but the effectiveness varies from child to child. These interventions may help one child, but not another. Dietary approaches are based on the idea that certain food allergies or a lack of specific vitamins and minerals can lead to symptoms of ASD. It is recommended to speak to a doctor if you are considering changing your child’s diet.
  •  There are no medications that cure ASD, but there are some that can help certain people with related symptoms such as depression, seizures, inability to focus, or high energy levels. Again, it is best to consult with your doctor if you are considering medication for your child.
  •  Many parents seek out alternative treatments for ASD that are outside of what is typically recommended by pediatricians. These type of interventions include special diets, chelation therapy (removing mercury and other heavy metals from the body), and acupuncture. It is important to note that these methods are very controversial and that there is no research evidence to prove that they are effective against ASD.

Working with your child’s school

Your child may be eligible for an individualized education plan developed by the school district under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA provides screenings and early intervention services for children up to age 3. However, not all children with ASD are eligible for IDEA, but they can still get free public education tailored to their needs “Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973” (NIMH), which is available to all public school students with disabilities.

Next Steps

Cognoa is available to parents through their employers. Learn more by sharing your information below.

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