Treatment Options for Children with Autism

A rise in what is labeled autism has led to increased research regarding treatment options as potential strategies for helping children who are victims to this complex syndrome. Although no conclusive cure exists, helpful strategies exist to overcome some of autism’s cognitive and behavioral consequences.

Contemporary research concluded that autism is primarily about how the child’s brain works.

Treatment options for autism
To date, no cure exists for autism, but combined treatment strategies do provide help.

A variety of theories have emerged to describe what the exact deficit in the brain may be, but the research remains inconclusive.

However, existing information has led psychologists to develop a blend of medical, behavioral and educational treatment options. Many times, medications are used to manage some more drastic symptoms like hyperactivity and seizures. Yet, the research is not far enough along to target autism specifically with medication.

Treatment goals

The goals when treating children with autism are to lessen the child’s deficits and family’s distress, and to increase the child’s functional independence and the child’s and family’s quality of life.

Treatment is typically tailored to the child’s needs. While no single treatment has proven best, many psychosocial interventions show positive evidence, suggesting that some form of treatment is preferable to no treatment, despite little evidence regarding effectiveness of treatment options.

Treatment resources

Families and the educational system are main resources for treatment. Although many interventions have some positive evidence, suggesting that some form of treatment is preferable to no treatment there is little evidence for the effectiveness of treatment options.

Intensive, sustained special education programs and behavior therapy early in life can help children acquire self-care, social, and job skills, often improve functioning, as well as decrease symptom severity and maladaptive behaviors.

Available approaches include applied behavior analysis (ABA), developmental models, structured teaching, speech and language therapy, social skills therapy, and occupational therapy .

Each case of autism is as unique as the individual.

As we consider treatment options for children who have been labeled autistic, one realization is that each case is unique and the treatment approaches should also be designed for each child. Parents and caregivers should be researchers not only for their own child but of the options for treatment that are in their community.

We should also be aware of new research showing real possibilities that may advance the treatment and management of the symptoms of autism.

As difficult as this syndrome is, there is hope for our children as we combine treatment options and carefully evaluate the impact of each one.

Though challenging, very often these children can live lives rich with relationship and achievements, particularly if we provide early intervention upon diagnosis. Their lives can be extremely promising and hopeful when we provide quality care for them.

Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network

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