Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex condition that affects individuals in different ways. While there is no cure for ASD, there are treatments available that can help reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. Some people and parents use treatments that don't fit into any of the other categories, such as complementary and alternative treatments. These treatments may include special diets, herbal supplements, chiropractic care, animal therapy, art therapy, mindfulness, or relaxation therapies.
It is important to talk to a doctor before starting any complementary or alternative treatment. The most effective interventions available are behavioral therapies based on applied behavioral analysis (ABA). There are many different types of ABAs to choose from based on the individual's strengths and needs. Other therapeutic options to try include occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, and drug therapy.
The goal of treatment is to minimize the impact of the main characteristics and associated deficits of ASD and to maximize functional independence and quality of life. Risperidone (Risperdal) is the only FDA-approved drug for children with autism spectrum disorder. It can be prescribed to children between 5 and 16 years old to help with irritability. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), including fluoxetine, are also used to treat anxiety and depression disorders in both children and adults.
Although large clinical trials have not yet proven effective, some people with autism have found that SSRIs can alleviate social difficulties. In some cases, medications are not needed, but when they are useful, they can make a big positive difference for a child on the autism spectrum. However, it is important to work closely with a healthcare provider or doctor to monitor the effects of medicines. With all types of treatment (including medications), what works well for one person on the spectrum may not work well or may even be harmful to another person.
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is one of the most used options for both adults and children. It refers to a series of techniques designed to encourage positive behavior through a reward system. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that can be effective in helping children and adults understand the connections between feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Social skills training (OSH) is a way for people, especially children, to develop social skills.
Occupational therapy (OT) is a field of healthcare that focuses on teaching children and adults the fundamental skills they need in everyday life. It is important to remember that there is no single treatment that can alleviate the main symptoms of autism spectrum disorder. In addition to these particularly popular methods of targeting people with autism or people who have a loved one with autism to spend their money on ineffective treatments, there are dozens of equally expensive, useless, and potentially risky products available on the market. If your child is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, talk to experts about how to create a treatment strategy and build a team of professionals to meet your child's needs. The variety of treatments and interventions at home and at school for autism spectrum disorder can be overwhelming, and your child's needs may change over time. Even if your child hasn't been officially diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, he or she may benefit from certain treatments. Use independent judgment and ask for referrals when considering any remedies associated with the diagnosis or treatment of autism or its associated medical conditions.