What is the best autism therapy for children?

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Answered by: Laquiza, An Expert in the Life With Autism Category
You notice your kid is different from others. She would rather spend time lining up toy cars than playing pretend with the neighbor kids. He cries uncontrollably at certain sounds that others are able to ignore. Even when you know she's starving, she rather cry than try that new food. His language skills never advance beyond rhythmic nonsense or endlessly repeated bits of his favorite TV show. So, with a heavy heart, you take your baby to the doctor. After all the referrals and testing, the diagnosis is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Autism awareness has grown exponentially over the last few years. With better testing methods and more understanding of the physical aspects of the condition, children are being diagnosed earlier. It's important to diagnose as early as possible, because the brains of younger children are built to learn more quickly and easily. Therefore therapies are often more effective when started as soon as possible. Choosing the right autism therapy for children can make the difference between your child spending their life in group homes and support settings, or having the ability to live independently.

There are three major categories of therapy to consider for ASD children: Applied Behavioral Analysis, sensory integration, and occupational therapies.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) is the best documented therapy currently available for people with autism. The goal of ABA is to establish positive patterns of behavior in the individual, using a customized rewards system to encourage your child to repeat certain desired behaviors. ABA can be customized to address most ASD related issues, such as self-injury, and social and communication issues. However, it can be extremely time consuming, requiring your child to spend between 10 and 40 hours per week with the therapist.

Autism is most often associated with sensory issues. ASD children often have reactions to light patterns, sounds, and textures. These can be painful and disorienting. Others may have an under-reaction to sensory input, which can be even more dangerous. Sensory integration therapies helps the child understand how to respond appropriately to problem stimulus. The methods used can be customized to encourage more or less reaction to stimuli, depending on the individual needs.

Occupational therapies deal with the small, everyday tasks that most of us take for granted. Depending on how severe your child's symptoms are, occupational therapies can include anything from how to use devices such as walkers and language machines to learning to bathe yourself and cook your own meals. This is where your child will learn to be as independent as possible.

ASD is a wide and varied spectrum, and each person has unique abilities and needs. It's best to take a short period of time to do research on the different types of autism therapy for children that may be available in your area. Then, spend as much time with your child as possible. Make an honest assessment of what you believe to be his or her strengths and deficits. Self education and knowing your child's abilities and needs are two of your most important tools in the journey of parenting an ASD child and helping them become the most successful and self-reliant version of themselves.

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