Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no one specific autism spectrum disorder treatment that has been found to help children. Scientists and researchers are looking for a cure for this disorder, but as of now, only the symptoms of the disorder can be treated. These treatments do help the autistic child function much better in life, and the earlier treatment of autism spectrum disorder is started, the more improvement the child shows. The three main treatments are therapies in behavior management, occupational, physical, and speech-language, education, and medication.

treatmentAlthough all of the treatments for autism spectrum disorder are very important in improving the quality of life for the autistic child and his or her family, behavior management therapy is one of the most important. It helps a child reduce unwanted behaviors and increase wanted behaviors. For instance, if a child gets frustrated and bangs his or her head on the wall, the therapist would try to show the child other ways of dealing with frustration. If the child does something positive like eat dinner and play with his or her toys, parents would show their appreciation and approval of this behavior. Without appropriate behavior, the other therapies are not always possible since they take some cooperation from the child. Behavior management therapy also helps in the realm of education since the child needs self-discipline to learn.

Another important treatment is speech-language therapy. Speech therapists help children say words and learn to communicate. The earlier that speech-language therapy begins, the better the child will be able to interact with others. Physical therapists help build motor control and improve balance and posture since some autistic children stumble and fall. Feeling more sure on their feet also lessens anxiety and fear because the child is in control of his or her body and actions. Occupational therapists can help young children learn to use eating utensils, to write, and do other small motor activities. In older children, they help them find ways to earn a living with the abilities that they have, and they develop talents that are needed for success at work.

Education is another huge treatment for autism. Children who suffer from autism spectrum disorder are entitled to attend school from age three to age 21 with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) that is created especially for them. A team of advocates for the child including parents, teachers, school psychologists, and others set learning and behavioral goals for the child in this plan that is geared toward the child learning the most he or she can with their unique ability and needs. The child may be taught by a special education teacher who is trained in how to best instruct autistic children, or he or she may be included in the regular classroom with extra educational support if it is needed.

Finally, medication is another major step in the treatment of the autistic child. Medication can treat some of the symptoms that the autistic child has, such seizures considering that one in four autistic children suffer from these. Doctors also use other medications that are given to treat symptoms, such as anti-anxiety drugs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and psychoactive/anti-psychotics.

Almost always, a combination of autism spectrum disorder treatments is needed to improve the life of the autistic child. He or she may need behavior management therapy as a preschool and elementary student as well as occupational, physical, and speech-language therapy until language is fully developed. Education begins with preschool in some cases, and the child is entitled by law to be in school until age 21. Medication is generally begun a little later unless the child suffers from seizures and requires anti-seizure medicines at a young age.

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