The chances of having a child diagnosed with autism has risen significantly in recent years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 68 children are affected by an autism spectrum disorder. That means that children are 10 times more likely to have some degree of autism today than in the 1980s.
There isn’t a cure for autism; however, early detection and intervention is the best way to help a child with autism develop to his or her full potential. Through treatment, a child’s ability to cope with and function with autism is dramatically improved. Since it is a spectrum disorder, its severity and the way that it impacts a person varies significantly. Additionally, an individual’s autism symptoms can change over time. As such, the techniques that are used to treat autism are custom-tailored to the individual’s needs. However, generally, autistic children do tend to respond to treatment techniques that are specialized and highly structured. Interventions that addresses assisting the child and his the individuals that he or she is closely associated with (parents, siblings, educators, etc) tend to be the most successful.
The following are some of the most successful and commonly used strategies by an autism center to aid children with autism and help them develop to their fullest potential.
Autism can impact a child’s fine and gross motor skills, as well as his or her speech. With specialized therapies, a child who has difficulties in these areas can improve his or her function. For example, a child who has difficulty communicating due to delayed speech can improve his or her language and social skills in order to more effectively communicate. Or, a child who has difficulty with grasping, an important fine motor skill, can benefit from occupational therapy.
Behavioral Training and Management
Behavioral issues are a hallmark symptom of autism. Through applied behavior analysis, a child can learn how to cope with and respond to triggers that may impact his or her behavior. For instance, a child who has sensory processing difficulties can learn techniques for coping with sounds that are unappealing; or, a child who appears to lack empathy can discover ways to relate to others.
Positive reinforcement, training in social skills and self-help tactics are all techniques that are used in behavioral training and management. There are several types of treatment techniques that have been developed to aid autistic children, such as sensory integration and Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA.)
It is not uncommon for children who are diagnosed with autism to be diagnosed with other conditions. Anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are all conditions that are commonly related to autism.
Medications are often used to aid autistic children who are also impacted by other related conditions. For example, an autistic child who also has depression may be prescribed an anti-depression medication, such as Zoloft. Medications can help to combat the side effects of related disorders that can impact the way a child with autism views the world, behaves, reacts to triggers and communicates with others.
If you are a parent or caregiver who suspects a child may have autism, speak the child’s pediatrician as soon as possible. The pediatrician can perform an initial assessment and will make recommendations for professionals who can make further assessments. Based on the findings of assessment, a diagnosis will be made and recommendations for the most effective treatments will be provided.