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What are the Different Kinds of Autism Treatment?

J.M. Densing
J.M. Densing

Autism is the term commonly used for a wide spectrum of developmental disorders in which a person from a young age has difficulty communicating with and relating to other people. The purpose of autism treatment is to help a child overcome symptoms and function as well as possible. The different kinds of autism treatment include behavior modification, medication, and specialized interventions such as speech, occupational, and physical therapy. Individual treatment plans vary according to each patient's unique needs.

Autism is usually diagnosed before age 3, and research to discover the cause is ongoing. Different combinations of symptoms that can range from mild to severe are usually present, and there is no known cure. Examples of symptoms include the following: reduced or nonexistent ability to use language to communicate; repeated body motions; extreme sensitivities to input from the senses; and difficulties with changes to routines. Autism treatment often consists of a combination of methods designed to address the patient’s individual symptoms and needs.

Many children and adolescents who have Asperger's syndrome are highly intelligent and verbal.
Many children and adolescents who have Asperger's syndrome are highly intelligent and verbal.

One type of autism treatment, behavior modification, tries to change the difficult behaviors of children with autism. One method, applied behavior analysis, is an intensive program designed to teach the child expected appropriate behaviors for various situations and bring functioning close to normal. Other methods choose specific target behaviors to eliminate and offer rewards and reinforcements for behaving in an acceptable manner. Sensory integration therapy helps children develop the ability to cope with various types of sensory stimulation that is hard for them to handle.

Children with autism often throw tantrums.
Children with autism often throw tantrums.

The use of medication for autism treatment can help relieve symptoms of emotional and behavioral problems that some children with the disorder exhibit. This can include emotional disturbances such as depression and anxiety as well as behavioral issues like hyperactivity and tantrums. The drugs used are usually mood stabilizers, antidepressants, or stimulants.

Speech therapy is commonly used as a part of autism treatment. Many children with autism don't develop necessary communication skills, and their acquisition of spoken language is often limited. They may not learn to hold a conversation without targeted assistance. While these children are developing spoken language skills, they may be provided with other methods of communicating. One example is a picture exchange communication system that involves utilizing images to communicate needs or desires.

Physical or occupational therapy can also be part of an autism treatment plan. These therapies can help address difficulties with coordination and motor skills, thus allowing children to complete tasks with more success. Occupational therapy can also be valuable when working with sensory integration issues, thereby helping patients learn real world strategies for coping with stimuli that they often find overwhelming.

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    • Many children and adolescents who have Asperger's syndrome are highly intelligent and verbal.
      By: Igor Mojzes
      Many children and adolescents who have Asperger's syndrome are highly intelligent and verbal.
    • Children with autism often throw tantrums.
      By: Alex Yeung
      Children with autism often throw tantrums.