When considering treatment options for an individual with Autism Spectrum Disorder, it is important to remember that every case of ASD is unique and so, each intervention plan will be unique. The most successful plans are those that are tailored to address an individual’s specific needs. There is a wide range of interventions and treatment options that have a demonstrated therapeutic and beneficial effect for adults, adolescents, and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The most profound results in treating Autism Spectrum Disorder stem from early intervention, but these methods have been found helpful in treating adolescent and adult ASD patients as well. Keep in mind that every individual responds to various treatments in a different way; it may take time to find the method that is most effective for your loved one.
Consult with a specialist and consider these 5 treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorder:
- Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA); widely found to be highly effective for many individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ABA therapy builds connections between stimulus and desired behavior. This method focuses on rewards and positive reinforcement, and is designed around the skills, needs, and interests of the patient. This technique can build skills in areas of self-care, communication (including speech), and social interaction. This technique should be administered by an experienced, certified professional.
- Medication; while there is no cure for autism, an individual’s difficulties are often exacerbated by other, more readily treatable conditions. Autism Spectrum Disorder is often accompanied by seizures, anxiety, depression, ADHD, or gastric distress. Medication can be therapeutic in addressing some of these secondary health issues. Keeping an individual with ASD physically healthy and comfortable can go a long way in assisting with meeting treatment goals. Antipsychotic medications may also be prescribed for adolescents with ASD who display violence or self-harm.
- Dietary Intervention; many reputable experts have had success treating Autism Spectrum Disorder through dietary modification. While this approach is not universally effective, some parents and professionals have reported improvement in symptoms by removing certain foods from their child or patient’s diet, and adding specific mineral supplements and vitamins.
- Sensory Integration Therapy; this technique is administered by an occupational therapist, and is designed to reduce the overwhelming sensory input experienced by many individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. With specific goals (usually articulated by a parent or therapist) in mind, sensory integration therapy uses activities which are designed to be fun and playful to modify the way an individual’s brain processes stimuli. This can be therapeutic for individuals suffering from sensitivity related to sight, sound, and touch.
- Residential Treatment; ideally, therapy for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder is administered intensively – this entails anywhere from 25 – 40 hours per week. While this is certainly possible within a home setting, there are advantages to staying in a residential facility. It can be extremely therapeutic for ASD patients, particularly adolescents, to interact with other people like themselves. The disorder is incredibly isolating, and individuals with ASD may connect more easily with each other than with “outsiders.” Additionally, placing a child or adolescent in a residential treatment facility moves his or her family’s stress out of the home. While a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder will certainly need the support and involvement of their entire family to attain the highest level of functioning possible, their family may find it more achievable to provide this with a higher degree of external support.
Depending on the severity of the individual’s ASD, his or her particular strengths and weaknesses, and the resources available, there are a variety of intervention and treatment options to help your loved one. We currently live in a day and age where we have a profound understanding of human functioning, be it physical or psychological. One thing we can do, is make the best possible choices for ourselves and our loved ones given the information at hand; knowledge is power.
To learn more about how you can help manage the strain that having a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder places on the family, and to learn more about different intervention options for ASD, download our free white paper.