Therapy for autism aims to reduce symptoms that interfere with daily functioning and quality of life. It can be provided in schools, hospitals, or a combination of settings. Often, it involves multiple professionals, including psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, occupational therapists and others.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is one of the most well-known and effective therapies for autism. It uses a rewards-based system to improve social behaviors in children with autism.
The ABA approach usually starts with the therapist observing your child’s behavior. They then identify the antecedent—the reason that a specific behavior occurred—and the behavior itself. Then, they use this information to change the antecedent. For example, if a child was playing with toys and then started throwing them out of the room, the therapist might give them verbal praise or use a physical gesture such as high fives to reinforce the behavior.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is another type of therapy that can help people with autism understand how their thoughts affect their behaviors. In CBT, a therapist works with an individual to identify their goals and then work on changing their thoughts and behaviors in order to achieve them.
Speech therapy is also a useful approach to treat autism, as it can help your child with their communication skills. During this type of therapy, a therapist will teach your child how to use words effectively.
Occupational therapy is another popular form of treatment for autism, and it helps children learn the basic skills they need in everyday life. It can also enhance motor skills and help your child with self-care tasks, such as feeding or bathing.
Other options for treatment include medicines, psychological approaches and specialized diets. It’s important to find a doctor who specializes in treating autism before starting any medication, as some medications can have negative side effects for individuals with ASD.
Medication for autism includes medicines that can reduce certain symptoms, such as digestive problems. It can also be used to manage seizures or sleep issues that may be a result of ASD.
Medicines that can be prescribed for autism include Secretin, a medicine that helps digest food; and chelation therapy, which removes heavy metals from the body. However, some of these medications are not proven to work or are even harmful.
Alternative therapies for autism are often tried by families, but they have little to no research supporting their effectiveness. Some have been linked to dangerous consequences, such as reinforcing negative behaviors and causing more health complications.
There are many types of alternative treatments, but it’s important to check with a doctor before trying them. These may include herbal supplements, special diets, animal therapy or chiropractic care.
Psychological interventions for autism can be effective in reducing anxiety and other symptoms that may be a result of the disorder. For example, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) teaches children how to recognize and regulate their emotions.
Sensory integration therapy (SIT) is a type of sensory processing therapy that tries to control your response to different types of stimuli, such as light, sound or smells. It’s typically done by an occupational therapist and involves play activities that can help you learn to balance the way your brain processes sensory input.