When one looks at how autism is treated, it’s important to remember that autism is a relatively “new” disorder, finding common usage in the 1940s to classify children with emotional or social problems. At one time, it had no name. Autistic individuals were simply viewed as being mentally challenged or, in some cases, possessed by demons. However, once it became acknowledged by the medical community, it began to be studied. In turn, those studies led to treatment.
In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association took four distinct diagnoses and put them under the blanket category of “autism spectrum disorder.” While some individuals with ASD are unable to integrate into society, many of them are considered “high functioning,” and with therapy, they can adapt to being in the mainstream.
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Early Diagnosis is Key
Autism is defined by the presence of three primary characteristics:
- Communication difficulties
- An inability to relate to different events or people or things
- Repeating certain behaviors or body movements
In many cases, the signs of autism spectrum disorder show up in between 1 and 3 years of age. That’s one of the reasons it is so important for parents to monitor their child’s early development. If something seems amiss, they should contact a child developmental specialist to assist with an early diagnosis and commencement of treatment.
One of the challenges when dealing with autism is that each individual with the disorder is unique. This makes finding the proper treatment more difficult than simply administering an antibiotic. However, several key therapies have been identified as being effective.
- Behavioral Therapy
- Social Skills Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
Behavioral therapy provides the foundation for most of the other treatment options for autism disorder individuals. At times, however, simple behavioral treatment doesn’t work effectively and might need to be used with various medications.
With different forms of behavioral therapy being available, finding the right one is challenging. What works for one individual will have no effect on another. According to Psychology Today, although it can be difficult to find the right therapy immediately, the important consideration is continuing to look for the right behavioral therapy.
Social Skills Therapy
Many individuals with autism spectrum disorder have difficulty picking up on social signals and cues. Social skills therapy trains the person to understand the meaning behind someone rolling their eyes or trying to exit a conversation or when someone is not interested in what is being discussed.
One of the areas that the ASD individuals focus on is occupational therapy. Since one-third of all ASD individuals can be found in a workplace environment, occupational therapy provides them with a set of skills that will enable them to integrate into society, as well as build up their self-confidence while also providing them with a source of income.
Individuals with ASD face a number of challenges, but every day, new advances in treatment and therapy are being examined. While there are a number of methods to determine how autism is treated, the important consideration is that staying on target to finding the best therapy is key.