CASA of Arizona

Autism - pg. 4

Treatment



When parents learn that their child is autistic, most wish they could magically make the problem go away. They looked forward to having a baby and watching their child learn and grow. Instead, they must face the fact that they have a child who may not live up to their dreams and will daily challenge their patience. Some families deny the problem exists or fantasize about an instant cure. They may take the child from one specialist to another, hoping for a different diagnosis. It is important for the family to eventually overcome their pain and deal with the problem, while still cherishing hopes for their child's future. Most families realize that their lives can move on.

Today more than ever before, people with autism can be helped. A combination of early intervention, special education, family support, and in some cases, medication, is helping increasing numbers of children with autism to live more normal lives. Special interventions and education programs can expand their capacity to learn, communicate, and relate to others, while reducing the severity and frequency of disruptive behaviors. Medications can be used to help alleviate certain symptoms. Older children and adults may also benefit from the treatments that are available today. So, while no cure is in sight, it is possible to greatly improve the day-to-day life of children and adults with autism.

Autism is not a narrowly defined disorder. A person diagnosed with autism can be suffering from a variety of symptoms and affects. Due to the various specific types of autism, a single treatment method does not work for all victims. Treatment needs to be created and modified for each individual. Below are listed two of the methods used to treat autism. For a description of specific treatment methods click this link.

Developmental approaches

Professionals have found that many children with autism learn best in an environment that builds on their skills and interests while accommodating their special needs. Programs employing a developmental approach provide consistency and structure along with appropriate levels of stimulation. For example, a predictable schedule of activities each day helps children with autism plan and organize their experiences. Using a certain area of the classroom for each activity helps students know what they are expected to do. For those with sensory problems, activities that sensitize or desensitize the child to certain kinds of stimulation may be especially helpful.

Behavioral approaches

When people are rewarded for a certain behavior, they are more likely to repeat or continue that behavior. Behavioral training approaches are based on this principle. When children with autism are rewarded each time they attempt or perform a new skill, they are likely to perform it more often. With enough practice, they eventually acquire the skill. For example, a child who is rewarded whenever she looks at the therapist may gradually learn to make eye contact on her own.

It is critical that parents obtain reliable, objective information before enrolling their child in any treatment program. Programs that are not based on sound principles and tested through solid research can do more harm than good. They may frustrate the child and cause the family to lose money, time, and hope.


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