Recommended treatments for Autism

Anytime there is a diagnosis given, immediately one wonders, “what are the treatment options available to me?” In an article on WebMD.com possible treatment options are given to help patients with Autism.

The article states that, “Symptoms and behaviors of autism can combine in many ways and vary in severity. In addition, individual symptoms and behaviors often change over time. For these reasons, treatment strategies are tailored to individual needs and available family resources. But, in general, children with autism respond best to highly structured and specialized treatment. A program that addresses helping parents and improving communication, social, behavioral.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following 4 strategies for helping a child to improve overall function and reach his or her fullest potential: Behavioral training and management, Specialized therapies, Medicines, and Community support and parent training.

Behavioral training and management uses positive reinforcement, self-help, and social skills training to improve behavior and communication. Many types of treatments have been developed, including Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH), and sensory integration.

Specialized therapies include speech, occupational, and physical therapy. These therapies are important components of managing autism and should all be included in various aspects of the child’s treatment program. Speech therapy can help a child with autism improve language and social skills to communicate more effectively. Occupational and physical therapy can help improve any deficiencies in coordination and motor skills. Occupational therapy may also help a child with autism to learn to process information from the senses (sight, sound, hearing, touch, and smell) in more manageable ways.

Medicines are most commonly used to treat related conditions and problem behaviors, including depression, anxiety, hyperactivity, and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

Parents, siblings, and friends play an important role in assisting the development of children with autism. Typical pre-school children learn primarily by play, and the importance of play in teaching language and social skills cannot be overemphasized.

There are many that believe these 4 strategies may not be working as well as they would like. There is a small but growing number of physicians (many of whom are themselves parents of autistic children) that are involved in trying safe and innovative methods for treating the underlying biomedical basis of autism — the Defeat Autism Now! (DAN!) program.

Some of the major interventions suggested by DAN! practitioners include: Nutritional supplements, including certain vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fatty acids; Special diets totally free of gluten (from wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats) and free of dairy (milk, ice-cream, yogurt, etc.); Testing for hidden food allergies, and avoidance of allergenic foods; Treatment of intestinal bacterial/yeast overgrowth; and Detoxification of heavy metals.

When you are considering any type of treatment, it is important to know the source of information and to ensure that studies are scientifically sound. Accounts of individual success are not sufficient evidence to support using a treatment. Look for large, controlled studies to validate claims.

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