When your child is diagnosed with autism, which affects 1 in 54 children in the U.S. according to the latest estimates, one of the first thoughts that comes to mind is often “Which type of treatment is the most suitable?”
Of course, at a time when parents and caregivers are worried and likely exhausted, it’s not easy to make the best decision. It’s a time of upheaval and an introduction to a new world of previously unknown programs, therapies, acronyms, and healthcare professionals. It requires research, but where to start?
There are many different treatments available, but there is no cure and no one treatment that can alleviate the core systems. Fortunately, some options have a significant positive impact, but it’s usually a process of trial and error, with the ultimate decision often depending on cost, availability, and the challenges involved.
Taking it one step at a time can help you make the best decision possible.
Understand the Types of Autism Treatments Available
Many programs aim to address the behavioral, language, and social difficulties associated with autism. Autism behavioral services typically focus on reducing problem behaviors and teaching new skills. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) may be used to help kids learn new skills and apply them to multiple situations via a reward-based motivation system.
Educational therapies provided by a team of specialists typically include various activities aimed to improve communication, social skills, and behavior. Children who receive individualized and intensive interventions tend to exhibit good progress. There are also family therapies in which parents and other members of the family can learn to play and interact with the autistic child to teach daily living skills and communication, better manage problem behaviors, and promote social interaction skills. Animal therapy can have a significant positive impact, such as therapeutic horseback riding, helping to improve social skills and build confidence.
Although there are medications available that can be prescribed for hyperactivity, anxiety, and other issues, there is no medication that can improve autism. Some can help manage symptoms; however, making a positive difference for a child on the autism spectrum.
Define What You Hope to Achieve
Once you understand the available therapies, it’s important to define what you hope to achieve. To find the best type of therapy, you’ll have to set out goals, thinking broadly at first, such as, “I am hoping my child will learn to talk.” Then come up with clear, defined outcomes that will help achieve that, such as wanting your child to use verbal language when requesting food or drink.” Keep in mind that little steps along the way are more achievable than one big leap, and oftentimes, there will be a step or two backwards before the ultimate destination is reached.
There are many other types of treatments in addition to those discussed. No matter which type you choose, before diving in, it’s essential to research to ensure the approach is supported by legitimate research and provided by a reputable therapist. Don’t rely only on personal testimonials you read online or other parents. It’s best to ask your child’s pediatrician or a trusted therapist to avoid making a poor decision.