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Breaking down an Autism diagnosis can be can be confusing. We are here to help answer some of the most common questions related to Austim.
Every single child is unique and special, and they deserve the chance to thrive and receive proper care.
Children with autism spectrum disorder are no different. There may be some challenges on the way, but with proper treatment, these challenges can be overcome.
Below, we’ll talk about some of the most common treatments for autism spectrum disorder. But first, let’s define autism spectrum disorder and learn how it’s diagnosed in children.
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines autism spectrum disorder as follows:
“Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. Some people with ASD have a known difference, such as a genetic condition. Other causes are not yet known.”
At the moment, scientists believe that autism spectrum disorder is caused by several factors—many of which act together to modify how a person’s brain develops and functions. The truth is that there remains a lot to uncover about autism spectrum disorder.
Individuals with ASD may perceive the world differently and have trouble with social interactions. The term “spectrum” is important—it refers to a wide range of symptoms with varying levels of severity. Once considered separate conditions, Asperger's syndrome, autism, and childhood disintegrative disorder are all included under the umbrella of autism spectrum disorder.
Because ASD covers a wide range of abilities, every individual with ASD is different. For example, some people may be completely unable to have conversations, while others may have highly-advanced communication skills.
A study performed by the CDC in 2018 found that 1 in 44 children in the United States has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
How is Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosed?
There aren’t any blood tests or other medical tests that doctors can use to diagnose autism spectrum disorder in a child. Because of this, ASD can be tough to diagnose.
Instead, doctors will look for signs of developmental delays during regularly scheduled checkups. They look at the child’s developmental history and behaviors to diagnose correctly.
If your child shows signs or symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, you’ll likely be referred to a specialist for further evaluation, such as a pediatric neurologist or a developmental pediatrician.
There are several different methods that specialists use to diagnose ASD, including:
- Testing your child’s hearing, language, speech, developmental level, behavioral issues, and social issues
- Tracks your child’s behaviors, social interactions, and communication skills over an extended period and observes for changes
- Scoring your child’s performance in structured social interactions
These evaluations help specialists diagnose ASD, despite having no true medical tests available.
What Treatments Are Out There for Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism spectrum disorder currently doesn’t have an outright cure, and there aren’t any treatments that fit every case in a one-size-fits-all format. Instead, treatment options for ASD seek to minimize symptoms, maximize abilities, and help them thrive.
Any treatment plans created for children with ASD often involve many different specialists. It’s also crucial to consult a doctor for a treatment strategy early on since a child with ASD can learn critical skills, such as communication, functional, and behavioral skills, before attending school.
Here are some treatment options available to minimize the effect of autism spectrum disorder.
An educational approach in a classroom setting is a common treatment method for autism spectrum disorder. Children with ASD respond to and thrive on consistency, routine, structure, and visual learning. With educational therapy, a team of specialists will help improve behavior, social, and communication skills through daily routines and learning stations.
Behavioral treatments aim to understand what happens before and after certain behaviors and positively change them. Treating ASD with behavioral therapy is a widely accepted practice among healthcare professionals and educators— it’s often used in clinics and schools around the country.
One of the most common forms of behavioral therapy is Applied Behavior Analysis—or ABA for short. Using a reward-based system, desired behaviors are encouraged, and undesirable behaviors are discouraged.
Speech and language therapy
Depending on the severity, children with ASD often struggle with communication skills. Speech and language therapy helps these children develop their speech and improve their understanding of how language works.
Some children with ASD may communicate using signs, gestures, or pictures, while others may communicate verbally. This is completely okay—no two children are the same!
Many children with ASD are capable of being independent and doing things for themselves. For those falling behind in their level of independence, occupational therapy can teach children how to live independently and boost their confidence levels.
Occupational therapy can teach children with ASD several important life skills, such as:
- Getting dressed
- Relating to people
Some children with autism spectrum disorder may struggle with their motor skills. In this case, physical therapy is a great way to improve balance, strength, posture, and other motor skills. Physical therapy is important to help children develop the motor skills necessary to play with other children and thrive in their environment.
Therapy doesn’t only include specialists and doctors—your role as a parent, sibling, or caregiver makes a significant impact on the growth and development of a child with ASD. Family members can (and should) learn how to interact and play with the child to promote social interaction skills, minimize problem behaviors, and develop communication skills.
There aren’t any medications that can cure or improve the core symptoms of autism spectrum disorder. However, there are some cases where children will show other symptoms that can be managed, such as higher energy levels. Children with ASD who are hyperactive may need medications to help calm them down, while extreme anxiety can be treated with antidepressants.
Consulting your healthcare professionals is the best way to figure out what path to take regarding medication for your child.
What Can You Do at Home?
Autism spectrum disorder treatment doesn’t stop at the clinic or classroom. As a parent, your role is crucial—you can create an environment that helps your child thrive while providing the love, care, and support your child needs.
Consistency is key with children who have ASD. If specialists use specific communication techniques during therapy, try them out at home! By remaining consistent, you can reinforce the learning habits that your child picked up in therapy that they might not think about while at home.
Schedules are another vital factor to consider in the child’s home environment. Children with ASD typically respond well to a structured routine or schedule, with regular time for bedtime, school, meals, and any other set events.
A safe environment or safe zone for your child is another critical component to creating a positive home environment. Children with ASD need a space where they can feel secure and relaxed. In some cases, safety-proofing your house might be necessary in case of any behaviors that could cause injury.
Never underestimate your role in the process. The most important part of the whole process is providing the care and love that your child needs to build confidence and lead a fulfilling life.
Sevita Can Help Your Loved One With Autism Spectrum Disorder
All children deserve a healthy and fulfilling life. Those with autism may require additional support, but Sevita is here to help them do that.
Our Children’s Autism Services provides skill-building therapies and other support to help children every step of the way and help them live as independent as possible. From case management to behavioral services, Sevita tailors support to meet the needs of every individual child.
Discover more about how Sevita can help support your loved one today.