- Sound therapy
- Speech therapy
- Occupational Therapy
- Play therapy
- ABA therapy
Benefits of each type of therapy for autism
- Sound Therapy:
Reported benefits included, but not limited to increased appropriate social behavior; increased attention to task; increased vocalization, verbalization, gesture, and vocabulary comprehension; increased communication and social skills; enhanced body awareness.
- Speech therapy:
Helps children with autism to comprehend the verbal and non-verbal communication that other people use. It helps them to recognise cues like body language and facial expression.
- Occupational Therapy:
is particularly effective in not only helping children with autism to refine gross and fine motor skills, but to also filter information and manage environmental stimuli. Most individuals on the autism spectrum experience difficulty with sensory processing.
- Play therapy:
Can help the child become more responsible for certain behaviors, develop coping strategies, enhance creative problem-solving skills, learn self-respect, respect others, express feelings, and strengthen family relationships.
- Increases language and communication skills
- Improve attention, focus, social skills, memory, and academics
- Decreased problem behaviors
- Improved social skills development
- Better parenting
- Improved independent living
- Enhances life satisfaction levels
A good treatment plan will:
- Build on your child’s interests.
- Offer a predictable schedule.
- Teach tasks as a series of simple steps.
- Actively engage your child’s attention in highly structured activities.
- Provide regular reinforcement of behavior.
- Involve the parents.
- Your child’s treatment should be tailored according to their individual needs. You know your child best, so it’s up to you to make sure those needs are being met. You can do that by asking yourself the following questions:
- What are my child’s strengths – and their weaknesses?
- What behaviors are causing the most problems? What important skills is my child lacking?
- How does my child learn best – through seeing, listening, or doing?
- What does my child enjoy – and how can those activities be used in treatment and to bolster learning?
Who gives the diagnosis:
If your child shows signs of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), their pediatrician will likely refer them to a specialist for a comprehensive developmental evaluation. Medical doctors trained to treat ASD in children can include child psychiatrists, pediatric neurologists, or developmental pediatricians.
However, the speech therapist, occupational therapist, sound therapist, play therapist or ABA therapist can screen a child for symptoms.
Therapy addresses the 3 main symptoms of the disorder:
- Poor communication skills
- Obsessive or repeated routines
- Physical clumsiness
Experts agree that the earlier a child starts therapy, the better the outcome.
Support for family:
Parents of a child with ASD must have a good support system in place. This will help your child cope with the unique aspects of his or her disorder. It will also help you learn how to manage your feelings when faced with the challenges of raising a child with ASD. Pay special attention to the needs of other children in the family. Sometimes siblings’ needs get lost when so much attention is needed by the child with ASD. Spend one-on-one time with your other children. Look for sibling support groups that can provide a safe place for them to talk and share their feelings and fears.
How to help your child with autism thrive:
- Do not wait for a diagnosis
- Learn about autism
- Become an expert on your child
- Accept your child, quirks and all
- Don’t give up!
Helping your child with autism thrive
Tip 1: Provide structure and safety:
- Be consistent. Explore the possibility of having therapy take place in more than one place in order to encourage your child to transfer what he or she has learned from one environment to another.
- Stick to a schedule. Autistic children tend to do best when they have a highly-structured schedule or routine. Again, this goes back to the consistency they both need and crave. Set up a schedule for your child, with regular times for meals, therapy, school, and bedtime.
- Reward good behavior. Positive reinforcement can go a long way with children with ASD, so make an effort to “catch them doing something good.” Praise them when they act appropriately or learn a new skill, being very specific about what behavior they’re being praised for
Tip 2: Find non-verbal ways to connect
- Pay attention to the kinds of sounds they make; their facial expressions, and the gestures they use when they’re tired, hungry, or want something. Figure out the motivation behind the tantrum. It’s only natural to feel upset when you are misunderstood or ignored, and it’s no different for children with ASD. When children with ASD act out, it’s often because you’re not picking up on their nonverbal cues.
- Make time for fun; A child coping with ASD is still a child. For both autistic children and their parents, there needs to be more to life than therapy. Schedule playtime when your child is most alert and awake. Figure out ways to have fun together by thinking about the things that make your child smile, laugh, and come out of her/his shell. Play is an essential part of learning for all children and shouldn’t feel like work.
- Pay attention to your child’s sensory sensitivities: Many children with ASD are hypersensitive to light, sound, touch, taste, and smell. Some children with autism are “under-sensitive” to sensory stimuli. Figure out what sights, sounds, smells, movements, and tactile sensations trigger your kid’s “bad” or disruptive behaviors and what elicits a positive response.
- Making time for fun: Television personality, Mr. Rogers once said, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning.”
These truths apply to all children and children with autism are no exception to these sentiments. Whether you are creating activities for autistic toddlers, preschoolers or older kids the benefits of play are the same. Playful activities teach social skills, inspire creativity, increase learning and understanding, improve communication and develop fine and gross motor skills.
It can be difficult to engage a child with autism in play activities. One reason is that many kids with autism get stuck in repetitive patterns and they can be resistant to interruptions to their patterns. Secondly, kids with autism also have difficulty focusing which can be challenging to anyone who is attempting to engage them in a play activity. Finally, communication can be problematic because many kids with autism are more focused on body movement during play rather than on the language that is required to learn the rules or concepts during play.
Ironically these tendencies that make play difficult for kids with autism are the very reason that play becomes even more important in order to resolve them. It is during play that new patterns can be introduced, attention can be increased and communication skills can be improved.
Choose activities that encourage climbing (rock walls, playsets), jumping (trampoline, jump rope), pushing (shopping carts, push brooms), pulling (raking leaves, pulling wagons), and carrying (laundry basket, groceries). Providing multiple opportunities in all of these areas with various everyday tasks can help your child develop better body and spatial awareness (Great physical activity for autistic toddlers, autistic preschoolers).