Autism – Part II
Autism Spectrum Disorder
In the last issue, we mentioned that autism is a set of disorders of the nervous system that cause significant problems in communication, social relationships, and behaviors. Although they have a natural appearance, they can exhibit a wide range of disorders called “autism spectrum disorder”. Repeated behaviors or sounds, avoiding eye-to-eye contact, avoiding contact or dislike of others, and unwillingness to make any changes to the daily schedule include these disorders. This article discusses treatment and supportive approaches to autism.
Prognosis: Before discussing treatment, two important points about autism spectrum disorder should be noted. First, the sooner these disorders are diagnosed, the better the treatment results. Most children with autism are diagnosed until the age of two. On the other hand, these disorders have different degrees in different children and therefore the treatment outcomes may vary for each child. Some children have significant treatment outcomes, but they may still need supportive treatment even in adolescence and adulthood. Supportive measures reduce the risk of depression and other psychological problems in these people and help them succeed in obtaining a job and living an independent life.
The therapeutic methods can be classified into four main groups:
Behavior and Communication Approaches: This is the basis of non-pharmacological and non-nutritional treatments and is widely used by clinicians and educational institutions. In this way, positive behaviors of the child will be admired and negated. The purpose of these techniques is to promote positive behaviors, reduce negative behaviors, and teach skills that the child may not have. The child’s progress is tracked, measured, recorded and reviewed. Various skills such as dressing, eating, brushing, bathing, and communicating with others are taught directly or with the help of pictures and teaching aids. Another part of this treatment is called Sensory Integration Therapy, which is used to strengthen a child’s five senses and to relieve his or her discomfort. For example, many children with autism are sensitive to touching their hands, heads, or any part of their bodies, which this can help solve such problem. This method also reduces the sensitivity of these children to certain sounds. Speech Therapy can also be very effective in training and improving the verbal skills of these children.
Nutritional treatments: Some researchers believe that allergies to certain foods or deficiencies in some vitamins and minerals may be effective in triggering or exacerbating unwanted behaviors in children with autism. This is not accepted by all specialists and does not apply to all children, but it may improve the symptoms of some children.
Medications: It is important to note that there are no therapeutic therapies to cure autism disorder and the aim of existing therapeutic treatments is to reduce or control the symptoms of this disorder. These therapies may be used to reduce the energy and irritability of these children, to reduce aggressive or repetitive behaviors, to reduce depression and anxiety, and to increase the attention and concentration of these children.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: These methods are not part of the usual treatment for autism and are not accepted by all professionals. Using certain hormones and diets, detoxification of the body in various ways and methods such as deep pressure on body parts are among these treatments. Before starting any of these methods you need to make sure they are useful and not risky.
It should be noted that the treatment and support of autistic children is not limited to these methods. It is very important to educate the parents and those around them. Many of these children may need psychological counseling even at an early age.