Treatment Options for ASD:
Unfortunately, there is no one package having the treatment for every child suffering from ASD. But many professionals out there would agree on this point that intercession at early stages of this disease is very essential along with systematic and well structured treatment programs are highly appreciated by individuals suffering from ASD.
You should gather all the related information about the available options before making any decision about your child’s treatment. Evaluate all the available options thoroughly and then decide the best alternative for your child. The treatment must focus on the problems your child is facing. If you have to, you can visit the local school and check with them to see the kind of special programs they are offering for children with special needs.
The Autism Society of America proposes the following questions in their guidelines that parents can use while looking for treatments:
- Can the treatment harm my child in anyway?
- If the treatment does not bear the expected result, how will it affect my family and child?
- Is this treatment been validated systematically?
- Have any assessment procedures been specified?
- Will this treatment become a part of my child’s current treatment routine? Do not get impressed too easily and ignore the other important parts like their social skills and vocational life.
The National Institute of Mental Health also has come up with a list of useful questions that parents can ask and get help while making their decision:
- How many other children have achieved desired results from this program?
- Have those children joined the regular school? If yes, what was their performance?
- Is there any member in the school staff who has some work experience or know how to deal with people who are suffering from Autism?
- How are the activities designed and controlled?
- Do they follow a predictable daily routine?
- How much attention is given to an individual child?
- How is change in the progress noticed? Will the child be observed closely?
- Do they provide the children with motivating tasks and rewards?
- How less are the distractions in the surrounding?
- Can I do this therapy at my home?
- How much is the price of this program and what kind of time will it require and what is the location of this program?
Recently the applied behavior analysis (ABA) has gained much appreciation in the field of awareness and treatment of Autism. In a magazine named “Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General” stated that after doing research for a period of about thirty years the results show that the applied behavioral treatments have actually helped in reducing the inappropriate behavior and have helped in improving learning, social and communication skills of the patients. The basic research was conducted by a group of teachers from University of California lead by Ivar lovaas. One-on-one teacher-child interface took place for about 40 hours per week. This laid a milestone and encouraged other intellects to conduct experiments and do further research for the betterment of patients suffering from ASD. The whole purpose behind all these exercises was to encourage the desirable behavior and cut down the unwanted behavior.
What is an effective treatment? It is the program that the child finds interesting, with a flexible schedule. The method of teaching must be easy and simple, plus it must grab child’s attention through healthy activities and it should bring a positive change in the child’s attitude. Involvement of parents is a key factor in the success of treatment. It helps the parents too, to get involved with the teachers and the therapists, to see the improvements their child is undergoing. Parents are the first teachers; therefore there are many training programs that allow the parents to take part in the process.
The treatment should begin once the disability is verified. Good programs will help the child in learning about early communication and interaction skills. Children who are below the age of 3 years can undergo the treatment at their homes or care centers. The treatment improves the condition by overcoming their deficits. They are encouraged to learn, imitate, motivate and initiate interactions. Treatments include behavioral methods along with physical therapy and social interactions. Often, the day starts with doing some healthy physical activity which makes the kid active. These activities include puzzles, painting and stringing beads and similar activities. During the lunch break, children are encouraged to interact and are taught about how to ask about things, e.g. how to ask for some more juice? Etc. There are parents with training, therapists and other students to help the child and reinforce positivity.
Now let us see how children older than 3 years are dealt. Preferably they are taught at school where individual attention is given along with special education. The children are encouraged to socialize by putting them with normal children for some time in the day but they spend most of the time with the other autistic children. Though the teaching methods vary as different people prefer different methods but the ultimate goal is to make the child able to interact socially. Parents are also encouraged to join in and give their opinions and suggestions and get advices from the teachers about helping the child to use their education in daily life.
Once the child reaches the elementary school, a child must be provided with necessary means to fulfill the areas he or she lacks. And they should be encouraged to show their skills and choose what their educational interests are. The ideal curriculum is the one that fulfills child’s needs. A number of schools now-a-days offers to let the child attend the normal school with some instructions. These instructions are basically the guidelines about how to react in a certain situation and how to make friends.
Once the child is old enough to attend middle and high school, the course of instructions should be related to practical life. This includes work life, living in a community and recreational skills and activities. Simple things like usage of public transportation and how to interact with neighbors should also be part of it.
All the parents want their child to become active members in the treatment program that is being offered. Therefore we recommend you to keep in contact with your child’s instructor and remain up to date with the child’s progress.