autism therapy for adults offers a wide range of treatments for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Many therapies work well in combination to help reduce symptoms, improve social skills and increase communication.
One type of therapy, ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis), is used to teach children new skills and generalize them to multiple situations through a reward-based motivation system.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is one of the most popular and effective forms of autism therapy. It combines behavioral principles with research-driven techniques to promote positive, effective changes in behavior.
ABA is based on the idea that a person’s behaviors can be changed through systematic application of antecedents and consequences. The ABA method begins with an assessment of a person’s skills, interests, needs and family situation.
Afterward, an experienced and qualified behavior analyst creates a treatment plan that’s tailored to the person’s goals and preferences. They may also work with other professionals, such as teachers or caregivers, to implement the plan.
Educational treatments are a key part of autism therapy. These programs focus on developing a child’s skills at each developmental stage, ensuring they have the right tools to succeed in school and life.
In early childhood, treatment should focus on acquiring language, play skills and joint attention. In middle childhood, social skills, peer relationships and maximizing supports for academic weaknesses are also important.
Occupational therapy (OT) is another form of educational treatment. OT helps people with autism and other disorders improve their sensory integration and motor skills.
Occupational therapy can be provided through a public early childhood intervention program or by private therapists. OT can help children with autism improve their handwriting, for example, so they can keep up in class.
Social-relational treatments are a form of autism therapy that help autistic people build friendships and learn how to interact with others. These treatments can be found in schools and private practices, often under the supervision of social workers or psychologists.
In a classroom, for example, a social skills group may consist of games and conversation between autistic and typically developing peers. These groups are usually overseen by school psychologists or social workers and may be held in a classroom, lunchroom, or playground.
Another social-relational treatment is Relationship Development Intervention (RDI), which focuses on strengthening emotional bonds between children and their parents. The program also aims to increase dynamic intelligence, which is thought to improve the quality of life for autistic people.
Medication can help manage symptoms such as aggression, self-injury or social withdrawal. However, it should only be used if it’s an effective treatment option and can’t be achieved with other forms of therapy.
For some people with autism, medication can be helpful in controlling repetitive behaviors and anxiety, says Jeremy Veenstra-Vanderweele, MD, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. It’s also helpful in managing tantrums and other disruptive behavior, and may improve eye contact.
Antidepressants and mood stabilizers are common options. The Interactive Autism Network states that they are “designed to increase the body’s production of certain chemicals called neurotransmitters.” SSRIs and tricyclic antidepressants are the most common.
Various psychological approaches are available to help children with autism learn new skills and improve their quality of life. Depending on their age and needs, therapy techniques may include behavioral intervention techniques, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), or family counseling and training.
One form of therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, helps patients recognize and modify their thoughts and beliefs. It can also teach them how to cope with stressful situations.
In this type of therapy, a trained therapist uses verbal or nonverbal methods to teach children with autism how to communicate their feelings and ideas effectively. The therapy is often used in conjunction with other forms of autism therapy.
Studies have shown that children with autism initiate fewer approaches towards peers, especially in unstructured social settings and environments (Lord & Magill, 1989). These impairments are especially noticeable within sustained or reciprocal interactions that demand a greater capacity to interpret the other child’s behavior in order to maintain the relationship.