Treatment of Autism
AutismSpectrum disorder, formally known as Asperger’s syndrome, is a typeof a development condition characterized by constant difficulties insocial communication and relations, together with persistent patternsof interests, behavior, and activities(Dawsonet al., 2012).The word spectrum comes into the picture because the people with theexperience disease challenge that range from mild to severe, withdistinct levels of ability and disability. The spectrum means someonemay be socially withdrawn or social active intellectually disabledor above average IQ or have no functional speech or rich vocabulary.Families with an individual having the disease often experiencechallenges in how to cope and treat the disease. There are manyproposed therapies and treatments for the disease. However, there islittle research on these proposed treatments to show whether theywork or they don’t. This paper discusses the various treatmentsproposed for people suffering from the disease.
THERAPIESAND TREATMENTS FOR AUTISM
Behavioral and Educational therapies
Behavioraltherapies focus on encouraging or encouraging positives behaviorwhile, at the same time, discouraging negative ones. In thisapproach, the professionals carefully access whether awarding of thepatient for any negative behaviors took place and prevent it fromhappening again. After the assessment, the professionals thenestablish new positive behaviors using unique methods, for example,discrete trial training approach. In a practical scenario, a patient(child) is directed to hand the therapist an item. If the childfollows the directive, he/she is awarded. If he/she doesn’t, he/sheis not awarded but gets a prompt(Dawson et al., 2012).The therapist may decide to move the child’s hand to the pencil. Inthis approach, physical punishments are not accepted.
Educationalapproaches, also known as developmental approaches, take a differenttrack. The approach focuses on impacting various skills in stages,from simpler to more complex ones. This approach establishes that thearea where the child with ASD is most stuck is one concerning higherorder interacting and thinking, from mutual attention to persistentinteraction, to problem-solving, all through to abstract thought(Greenspan,2007).In this approach, the therapist/parent trails the child’s lead in aplay that will optimistically provide openings for relation, andtherefore, to ever more multifaceted social and emotional relations.
Typesof educational and behavioral therapies include:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy this approach targets the distorted thoughts the patient has about himself or his life. The approach helps in shifting the way the patient interprets a situation, how he/she feels about the situation, and how he/she responds to the situation. The treatment has a planned, goal-oriented methodology that is time-limited. It usually takes between twelve and sixteen sessions (Butler, Chapman, Forman, & Beck, 2006). The treatment has mostly been used for people with anxiety since its common in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Social Skills Intervention this approach mainly focusses on social skills training. The approach is about improving the social understanding as well as the functioning of individuals with autism stress disorder. There are various social skills interventions offered in schools and hospitals some of which include use of stories and funny strip conversations to build understanding use of “hidden” curriculum to directly teach unspoken social rules using social scripts to teach common social situations and computers for recognition of emotions.
Sensory-Based Therapies: This therapy focuses on correcting or developing the body’s abnormal response to external stimuli. Individuals with ASD find it difficult to filtering of the experiences they have with the world. This therapy is of two types an integrated sensory therapy that deals with changing the brain by changing the experience one has and auditory integration training (AIT) that involves treating the patient with AST through their sense of hearing. The AIT approach uses musical sounds to lessen hypersensitivity to sound, and thus an overall improvement in attentiveness and behavior.
Denver Model Therapy the approach entails dividing a particular activity into different small steps and then teaching each of the steps in series. This approach, however, does not use discrete trials and put a lot of stress on the relationship between the therapist and the child/patient. The relationship strengthens through play that exploits the child’s interests.
Floortime and Pivotal Response Therapy in this approach, child-led activities are used. These child led activities can indeed take place on the floor as the adults follow the child’s lead while focusing on whatever toys or objects the child likes. The purpose of the approach is to capture the patient’s interest and to share his/her pleasures and frustrations (Greenspan, 2007). This approach helps in improving an emotional connection between the parent and the patient.
Medications, Diets and Supplements
AutismSpectrum disorder treatment can also be through the use of drugprescriptions. The drugs are intended to prevent, alleviate or treatany physiological symptoms that the patient experiences. However,these medications do not correct the underlying neurological as wellas developmental abnormalities. The medications just help with thedifficulties resulting from these abnormalities. There are thosemedications that specifically target the brain, and they areantipsychotic drugs, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants amongothers. There are also those that also target other body systems suchas gastrointestinal agents and immunological agents.
Studiesshow that children with autism do not get sufficient nutrients due tovarious observations such as chronic diarrhea, gastrointestinalinflammation, and restriction to food choices. It is, therefore,necessary to perform mega-vitamin therapy as well as giving the childother nutritional supplements. The most common vitamins andnutritional supplements used are Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Essentialfatty acids (Omega 3), and DMG (Dimethylglycine). At the same time,there are certain dietary interventions that reduce the symptoms ofthe disease. Examples of the diets include Feingold diet, yeast-freediet, diet free of casein and gluten, and diet with specificcarbohydrates.
Manypeople have a challenge in deciding what therapy or treatment issuitable for treating Autism. There is no single novel method fortreating autism. However, there are several proposed ways of treatingautism. The major ones are behavioral and educational therapies, anduse of medications, supplements, and special diets. Many studies showthat behavioral interventions improve the intelligence test scores,academic performance as well as language skills in patients withAutism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Other studies also show that thisapproach improves the behavior as well as personal and social skills.There is little evidence to prove that educational approach works. Itis also important to note that the medications and dietarysupplements are not for treating autism but rather to manage theconditions associated with autism. A lot of effort is necessary forresearching for the novel way of treating the disease(Green et al., 2006).The effort in this context entails additional funding of researchprojects intended to test treatment methods. Increased awareness ofthe condition is also a major way of combating the disease.
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Dawson,G., Jones, E. J., Merkle, K., Venema, K., Lowy, R., Faja, S., … &Smith, M. (2012). Early behavioral intervention is associated withnormalized brain activity in young children with autism. Journalof the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 51(11),1150-1159.
Greenspan,S. I., Wieder, S., & Hollander, E. (2007). The developmentalindividual-difference, relationship-based (DIR/Floortime) modelapproach to autism spectrum disorders. ClinicalManual for The . Hollander, E. & Anagnostou,E.(Eds)..
Green,V. A., Pituch, K. A., Itchon, J., Choi, A., O’Reilly, M., &Sigafoos, J. (2006). Internet survey of treatments used by parents ofchildren with autism. Researchin developmental disabilities, 27(1),70-84.