Treatments available for autism individuals are bifurcated by ACA under three broad canopies:
Conventional Treatments: Includes medical management like Antipsychotics, Anti-depressants, Alpha2 antagonists to reduce hyperactivity, anxiety, impulsivity and inattention, mood stabilizers to reduce aggression, repetitive behaviour.
Occupational therapy in autism, psychological interventions , ABA , sensory integration for children with autism and speech therapy. Alternative Treatments include aquatic therapy, art therapy, music therapy, dance therapy, play therapy, yoga therapy, diet & nutrition and animal therapy .
New Age Treatments: Newer advances available are Chelation , Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, Stem Cell Therapy and Vitamin B12 Therapy.
Management of autism is multimodal. As 75% of children are found to have mental retardation educational interventions are important. As there is a delay in language development, speech therapy is necessary for improvement of outcome. Sensory integration and social skills training are some of the other methods used.
Medical management is also one of the modalities of treatment. While it is not curative, it helps to control symptoms especially of irritability, hyperactivity and self injurious behaviour. These symptoms may also interfere with other modalities of treatment and hence require treatment.
Occupational therapy is defined by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) as a “skilled treatment that helps individuals achieve independence in all facets of their lives. Occupational therapy assists people in developing the ‘skills for the job of living’ necessary for independent and satisfying lives”.
Autism is a “spectrum disorder”, meaning that there is a wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairments or disability that children with ASD can have. Some children are mildly impaired by their symptoms, while others are severely affected. Autism often goes undiagnosed until the child is way past the formative years of his/her life. It can be partly blamed on the lack of awareness about the condition and also, negligence or denial on the part of parents to recognize apparent differences in the child.
Most individuals with Autism show several behavior issues. Individuals with Autism exhibit difficulties in learning everyday behaviors that are necessary for the social, academic, and personal development. They lack internal motivation and ability to learn from their environment. Instead they engage in various excess and harmful behaviors. Sometimes it may appear that they are lost in their own world. They may be detached from their surroundings and people around them.
Most of the children of Autism have Sensory Integration (SI) issues which come in between their ability to learn and respond to environment appropriately. Some of the problems related to SI dysfunction are Hyperactivity, oversensitivity to touch/ smell/ sound, being scared of moving equipments / scare to climb down stairs, poor eye contact, they also has lack of awareness about own body or about the surrounding and kind of lost in own word, motor mannerism, poor imitation skills, lack of appropriate play behavior etc. Children might show this behavior which are not just behavior but it has sensory and neurological base which need to be addressed at that sensory level rather working on superficial behavior level. Such as forcing child to rock/ or climb down stairs when they getting panicked about it.
The communication is a process in which the ideas in one’s mind is transferred to the other, either verbally or non- verbally. The Speech Language Pathologist along with other professionals works to remove obstructions in the flow of messages. This helps in the successful transfer of messages. Speech and language are two important component of communication.
Language is used to communicate our feelings, thoughts and needs with other people. Language can be either communicated verbally or non verbally. In verbal communication we use vocal symbols.
Often the nutritional status in Children with autism remains compromised. They usually have vitamin A, vitamin B - 6, vitamin B-12 and folic acid deficiencies. This could be due to many reasons like difficulty to swallow and digest many foods items, sensory problems like food preferences, diarrhea, constipation, frequent infections, bloating and gastrointestinal (GI) pain. When things go awry in the “gut,” negative behavioral changes and cognitive problems occur or are exacerbated. Hence, an alteration in the diet with respect to the nutritional requirement after assessing the other aspects like the swallowing and digestive ability is necessary so as to improve the quality life of the patient.
Since time immemorial, different animals have been used for a wide variety of purposes. However, it’s only recently that the health professionals are waking up to a realization about animals and the therapeutic effects they can bring about on human psyche. From petting a puppy, going for a swim with a dolphin, engaging in play activities with a dog to riding a horse, all these different activities involving animals can aid us in achieving psychological well-being.
Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) revolves on the principle of improving the cognitive, emotional and overall well-being by means of animals possessing certain characteristics suitable for the problem in question. The animals generally used for this purpose are trained dogs, cats, horses, dolphins etc.
Yoga is increasingly practiced by people all over the world to improve their physical fitness, as a stress reliever, to improve concentration and lastly to enhance the spiritual experience. But, the extrapolation of yoga therapy to the treatment of a myriad of diseases has only surfaced in recent times.
The Aquatic Therapy and Rehabilitation Institute defines Aquatic Therapy as "The use of water and specifically designed activity by qualified personnel to aid in the restoration, extension, maintenance and quality of function for persons with acute, transient, or chronic disabilities, syndromes or diseases".
Simply put, aquatic therapy means making use of various physical and chemical properties of water for the treatment of various disorders.