Once symptoms of autism have been identified and correctly diagnosed, it is time to work out the best treatment options. This can vary depending on the age of the person, its particular needs and other factors, but it is normal to use a few different therapies with the goal of improving the life of the autistic person.
If a child is diagnosed early enough, treatment can begin to reduce the side effects. Intervening early enough can help reduce the challenges associated with autism, offering a level of independence and settling disruptive behavior. In a nutshell, the goal of all forms of treatment is to empower the person to fulfil their full potential, regardless of their symptoms.
The types of therapies available include: cognitive behavioral therapy, joint attention school and educational based, nutritional, medication treatment, sensory integration, physical, parent-mediated, occupational, speech and social skills training.
Occupational therapy teaches basic skills such as bathing, buttoning a shirt, etc. Physical therapy uses exercises and other measures such as heat and massage to assist autistic people to better control the movements of their body.
Behavior modification refers to treating aggressive or inappropriate behavior and helps people who are autistic to better function in the real world. It was proven that rewarded behavior is more commonly repeated than behavior that’s being ignored. This type of activity involves highly structured skills activities based on individual needs through one-on-one training by a therapist, and also involves the primary caregiver who can carry on such activities in the home.
Sensory integration helps people better handle having their senses stimulated in different ways. Communication therapy helps people who cannot talk; it is also used to help young children develop the ability to talk.
Play therapy involves interactions between the child and the adult where the child is in control. It helps develop emotions, leading to better learning abilities and stronger social skills.
Social stories are used to enhance social skills. The aim of such stories is to stimulate emotions and help people who have autism to understand the ideas, feelings and views of other people. This can also be used to help people with autism to comprehend their own feelings. Caregivers can be taught to do this as well; this means that more progress can be achieved in comparison with the situations where only the therapist is involved in the process.
Picture communication helps autistic people to use pictures to communicate ideas and activities to other people by giving them a picture.
It is vital for caregivers, family and friends to get involved in the treatment of people with autism. The more support these people have, the faster they will be able to incorporate the new therapies into their lives. This is because some of the therapies can be carried out by the people supporting them, so treatment sessions happen more often.
People with autism need routine and repetition. If certain activities and treatments are done more frequently, they will identify with the specific activities and will gradually add them to their routines, so they become “normal” for them.
People with autism can lead the same long life as non-autistic people, as long as they have the right support.