There is no definite cure for autism. However, there are various types of treatment approaches that can significantly decrease the symptoms that come with it. In some cases, the treatment has a profound effect on these symptoms. Because communication and social challenges are mainly considered as part of the entire diagnosis, speech and behavioral therapy usually comprise the main elements of the treatment plan. The problem is, no fixed treatment can get everything done.
So far, one of the most effective ways to help children manage the symptoms is through behavioral therapy. Contrary to popular belief, behavioral therapy does not only address the hyperactivity manifestations of children in some cases. Aside from that, this type of therapeutic approach helps to improve the social skills of the children who are subjected to it.
Benefits Of Behavioral Therapy
There are numerous benefits if behavioral therapy is used on a long-term basis. Some of these are that it is safe and effective for the children. However, you will have to put in more time and funds for each therapy session. Moreover, you have to be hands-on in making sure that what the children learned during the sessions will have a carryover for a smoother transition to school.
While there is no final cure for autism, there are a lot of approaches that can help you guide your child. Aside from working with the therapist to come up with a realistic set of goals for your child, it is also essential to be flexible, as far as the monitoring of the progress is concerned. Making the necessary treatment adjustments is also important, and the participation of parents during the therapy sessions is highly encouraged. Another consideration is to engage in a continuous therapy and maintain regular meetings to ensure consistency in the interventions and outcomes desired.
The following are subtypes of behavioral therapy and are applicable in the management of autism:
This is a type of approach that teaches non-speaking children how they can communicate their wants and needs with a purpose. Children learn that words can be functionally used to achieve the desired response. This does not only mean that the children will resort to actions such as pointing to communicate something that they want. Later, the sessions will progress to include a gradual introduction of spoken words into their vocabulary until such time that they can form clear and comprehensive sentences while resorting to minimal cues.
Applied Behavioral Analysis
Among the approaches mentioned here, this may be considered as the one with the most number of evidence to back it up. This technique requires the therapist to teach skills that they can use in social circles, education, self-care, communication, and play. The therapist will initially assess the patient for their needs and the goals of the parents. Competent parts will then be organized into encouragement, modeling, reinforcement, and repetition. As the child continues with the therapy, there will be a significant change observed in the behaviors, manners, communication, and relational aspects of the child.
This is a family-oriented approach that focuses mainly on defining a social and emotional objective that can help the child form bonds and establish relationships with other people. Some goals related to this approach include empathy and motivation to mingle with other people around them. Some skills that can be learned are establishing dialogues while establishing eye contact. The therapist will help the child in starting the communication process, reply appropriately, and even guide the child in demonstrating the proper emotions. Take note – the whole therapy technique does not dictate to the child what to feel and do, instead, guiding and modifying the maladaptive behaviors into effective and acceptable forms.
For the past 50 years, behavioral therapy proves to be useful in managing children with autism. The research on finding more solutions and strategies, to help children with autism and their families live a healthy and functional life, is still very active up to this date. As more research is conducted, the ultimate hope and dream by everyone are to discover an answer for this disorder.
Angela Sim, Sharmila Vaz, Reinie Cordier, Annette Joosten, Dave Parsons, Cally Smith, Torbjörn Falkmer. (2018) Factors associated with stress in families of children with autism spectrum disorder. Developmental Neurorehabilitation 21:3, pages 155-165.