Autism Treatment

autism3There is currently no cure for Asperger’s syndrome, autism and related conditions, however, there are treatments and methods, which are used to control symptoms, promote independence and manage the condition. There are also different programmes, known as interventions, which are used to improve skills and control behaviour.

Interventions

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, interventions must be:

  • Small classes: the ration of teachers or professionals to children should be low to ensure that children get the attention and support they need.
  • Intensive: children should be actively involved in the programme for at least 25 hours each week.
  • Structured: interventions should be highly structured as children learn best through routine.
  • Family involvement: family involvement in the programme benefits the child.
  • Encouragement to develop new skills: the intervention should allow space and a foundation for children to develop new skills
  • Interaction with children who do not have autistic spectrum disorders: the intervention should allow children with ASD to interact with other children.

autism2Interventions should focus on the following skills:

  • Interaction skills.
  • Academic and learning skills.
  • Social skills.
  • Communication skills.
  • Cognitive skills.

 

There are different types of intervention, including:

  • TEACCH: this is an intervention that involves using visual prompts to encourage children to learn.
  • SLT (speech and language therapy): speech and language therapy is designed to develop language skills and facilitate interaction with others.
  • ABA (applied behavioural analysis): this intervention has two key aims: to break down large tasks into smaller more manageable tasks and then using highly structured teaching to develop skills and to encourage good behaviour by rewarding positive behaviour and discouraging negative behaviour.

 

Medication

tabletsThere is no form of medication available to treat the basic symptoms of autistic spectrum disorders, however, there are medications which can be used to manage the symptoms such as aggressive behaviour and repetitive thoughts and actions. The most commonly used medication is SSRIs (serotonin reuptake inhibitors), which are commonly known as anti-depressants. SSRIs can cause side-effects, known as serotonin syndrome, with side-effects including shivering, sweating, diarrhoea, confusion and restlessness. If your child experiences these symptoms, see your GP as soon as possible and stop their medication.

Alternative treatments

Many people try complementary and alternative therapies to ease their child’s symptoms; examples of these include:

  • Vitamin supplements.
  • Special diets.
  • Chelation therapy: this is used to remove metal (especially mercury) from the body.

There is very little evidence to support complementary therapies and you should see your GP before you change your child’s diet. There are risks associated with chelation therapy and many doctors advise against it.

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