Autism spectrum therapies

An autism spectrum disorder is a neural development disorder which affects the communication and lifestyle of sufferers. Autism is usually present right from birth but it becomes apparent in the first three years of a child’s life. The social interaction of sufferers is also severely hampered and they usually have behavioral disorders.

How autism develops is not understood as yet, but it said to be influenced by a person’s genes. Internally the information processing in the brain is affected, this alters how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize. Autism suffers also often exhibit repetitive and compulsive behavior, which could sometimes lead to self injury (e.g.: eye poking). Sensory sensitivities are also affected, which means they could be over or under sensitive to stimuli such as sight, touch, taste, smell and sound.

There is no cure for autism, however, there are many therapies that have been developed to help people with autism. These therapies may be pharmaceutical, therapeutic, and education based. Early use of such therapies can be of great help to sufferers and their families. Those who start form an early age have a better chance of reducing behavioral problems. They can also have a brighter future due to independence.

Floor time is one such therapy. It is centered on sensory and motor planning play. It focuses on emotional developments of a child instead of cognitive or behavioral developments. This therapy aims to improve the child’s response to a range of senses and helps them engage in a two way communication and builds strong relationships.

Behavioral training is another commonly used autism therapy. It teaches people how to communicate properly. This helps them adapt well to different social situations. Behavioral therapy is very structured and is developed according to individual needs. Children undertaking this therapy can be made to observe other children, in an attempt to get them to replicate that behavior. This therapy requires consistent use for best results.

Dolphin-assisted therapy is a fairly new program developed to assist autism sufferers. It is classified as an animal therapy. Using this therapy children aged 2 to 13 are made to swim with friendly dolphins. The dolphin plays with them and sings as they swim. The child builds a strong relationship with the dolphins and it is also said to increases their awareness and curiosity about things happening around them. Although this therapy is said to have a success rate of more than 90%, scientists are not totally sure how this works.

Some therapies focus on various aspects of a person’s diet in a bid to ensure they are getting the right amounts of the right nutrients. Each person requires different levels of nutrients to ensure optimum metabolism. Researchers believe that some foods or allergies can cause autism, but there is no definitive evidence. Scientists say that brain functioning in autistic kids can be affected by reactions to certain foods, such as wheat. This is why consumption of foods that cause allergies is looked at very closely.

Vitamin therapy looks at the various vitamins in the body and how they can cause behavioral problems. It aims to stabilize chemicals in the brain and strengthen the immune system. Vitamin C is used to improve the personality of sufferers and this reduces the chances of them being in depressive states.

If you or anyone you know has a child with symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, the best thing to do is go and see a doctor. Remember that early detection is very important. Doctors may refer you to specialists who have experience dealing with autistic children and they will develop a program that is tailored to suit your child.

Last updated on Feb 27th, 2011 and filed under Mental Health. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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