Autism, in the clinical context is also known as “autism spectrum disorder”. The name comes from the fact that its symptoms manifest at different intensities in different individuals. Therefore, 2 people diagnosed with autism may display entirely different behaviors.
In fact, the term autism is not a precise condition or
diagnosis, it is just a broad category
for people with problems with their social skills, repetitive behaviors/
movements, unusual responses to everyday situations or changes in routines and
a general difficulty communicating with others.
Autism is usually diagnosed during the first years of life (2
or 3 years). In some cases, 12 month old babies manifest early signs (like not
babbling or pointing); however, some children do learn how to talk and interact
normally in social situations before “regressing”.
At the moment there is no known cause for autism. It does
seem to be more common in boys than in girls but global statistics report that
around 0,7% of all children fall in this category. The number of cases per year
has broadly remained the same for 20 years.
Autism usually is associated to a number of secondary
conditions that have negative effects over the child’s life and also their
parent’s. Among the most well-known we find:
Executive function problems (problems with organization and coping with stress)
At this point is important for us to clarify that someone
with autism can have a very successful and happy life if he/she counts with
proper help. A great number of people with autism can become entirely
independent and the chances of this increase considerably with early diagnosis.
Here you’ll find more information on how
to deal with some of these problems.
There is no known cure for autism. However, a group of
diverse treatments and therapies have proven to be very effective in allowing
an independent, productive and happy life.
It promotes better communication and language skills by
teaching that words are not only labels we use to categorize or identify
things, they are also useful to achieve goals and reducing frustration.
This therapy is used to improve the skills of both children
and autistic adults who use assisted communication. It is recognized as an
effective therapy by over 60 different studies.
Some people with autism can’t talk and others can but have
difficulties with verbal and nonverbal communication. After a careful evaluation, a personalized
therapy will be recommended based on each individual’s challenges.
The objective of speech therapy is to improve both verbal and
nonverbal communication. This means the patient will have to work on speaking
more clearly, strengthening muscles related to speech, matching emotions with
facial expressions correctly, etc.
This same therapy can also help with feeding and swallowing
issues (which tend to be associated with speech impediment)
development intervention (RID)
This approach is mainly focused on families and the idea of
dynamic intelligence. Most RID programs work by training the parents in guiding
their children to more usual social interactions by gradually teaching them how
to understand different perspectives, cope with change and use information when
it comes from different senses. So far, RID has proven to act over some of the
core characteristics of autism.
Parent involvement is essential for the success of RID.
PRT uses positive reinforcement to promote progress in
certain key areas of the child’s behavior like: Motivation, response to
multiple cues, initiating social interactions and self-management. This is one
of the most recommended treatments for autism and is usually aimed to children
of up to 14 years old.
This method focuses on rewarding any attempt to engage in
social interaction as a form of motivation.
OT focuses on developing basic skills related to everyday
activities. This is a more pragmatic approach. After an evaluation, the
specialist will determine the areas in which the child is currently failing and
propose a strategy to work on the problem.
This therapy aims for the child eventually being able of
eating, dressing, grooming, etc without any help from others.
Floortime also requires a strong element of parental
involvement. In it, the parents or caretakers physically get on the floor to
play with their children in order to promote emotional development.
Each session is supervised by a therapist who trains the
parents on how to guide their children into more complex interactions.
Early start Denver
ESDM is aimed to very young children (up to 48 months) and it
mainly uses play and joint activities to create positive relationships and
promote social and communication skills early on.
ABA is a very flexible treatment method based on the
principles of positive reinforcement and the study of the association between
antecedent, behavior and consequences.
When applied correctly, this approach can help with
communication, cognitive skills and problematic behavior.
Recommendations To Deal with Autism
Some of the most frequent recommendations and forms of
treatment have already been mentioned in this article; however, there are a few
things that could be useful to add:
Interact with your child as much as possible during
Create opportunities for your child to interact with
you and others.
Celebrate even small accomplishments.
learn as much as you can about autism.
This article should guide you through the basics of autism
and its treatment. Is important for you to understand than even the most
successful cases take time and effort. Most treatment strategies plan for the