Autism therapy is a variety of treatments that can help children with autism develop skills, improve their ability to socialize and learn, and overcome some of their developmental challenges. These approaches do not aim to cure autism, but they can make a big difference in a child’s quality of life and future opportunities.
Treatments and supports for autistic children include behavioural, developmental, family-based, medical and alternative therapies. Understanding the different types of therapies can help you choose the best ones for your child and avoid unnecessary and potentially harmful ones.
Behavioral therapies, such as applied behavior analysis (ABA), are one of the most popular and effective options for children with autism. This approach uses positive reinforcement to teach and reinforce useful behaviors. In addition, ABA is highly effective in teaching children and adults with autism how to communicate effectively and engage in meaningful relationships.
Another widely used treatment is social thinking. This curriculum, created by a well-regarded therapist, helps people with autism understand and use basic social skills. This includes learning how to greet others, take turns, and share space.
The early diagnosis of autism and initiation of treatment are key to a child’s improvement. About two out of three preschoolers with autism improve their language and communication skills with early intervention.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a psychological approach that can help people with ASD manage anxiety, depression and other mental health problems. It involves changing how you think about a situation or event to change how you react to it.
These therapies are available from private therapists, hospitals and other organizations. You may need to pay out of pocket for them, but they can be very effective in helping your child with autism cope with their disability.
Psychological therapies can be especially helpful for younger children with autism who have trouble developing normal social skills. These can help your child learn to understand others better and communicate with them using nonverbal methods, such as gestures and picture symbols.
Occupational therapy, or OT, can be useful for people with autism who have difficulty using the sense of touch or other body-based skills. It also can help with sensory integration issues and motor skills.
Physical therapy, or PT, is an important part of treating a person with autism’s movement and coordination problems. This can involve exercises or other activities to build balance and strength.
Arts therapies, including music and visual arts, are another option for people with autism. These can be free or low-cost and are often held at museums or theaters.
Other common therapies include physiotherapy for a child’s physical disabilities and speech therapy, which can be effective for kids with language and communication difficulties.
These therapies are sometimes combined with other types of autism therapy to target specific issues. They can be a great choice if you have limited financial resources but want to see your child’s development progress.
Chelation, a drug that is used to remove heavy metals from the body, is another type of alternative therapy. While it can be useful for some people, chelation has not been proven effective in improving symptoms of autism.