Diagnosis, Doctors, and Dentists

Animal Therapies

There are many reports from both parents and clinicians that interacting with animals, formally called animal-assisted therapy, can offer both physical and emotional benefits.  For example, it has been claimed that animals can soothe the emotionally distressed, relieve physical pain, reduce heart rate and blood pressure, help with development of motor skills and, in the case of people with ASD, reduce stereotyped behavior, lessen sensory sensitivity, and increase the desire and ability to connect socially with others.  Read more…

Auditory Integration Therapy (AIT)

Hypersensitivity to certain sounds and frequencies often contribute to many behaviors or learning problems. Auditory Integration Therapy (AIT) consists of playing certain frequencies that people are hypersensitive to through headphones to desensitize the person for two half-hour sessions a day for 10 consecutive days. As of 2018,  AIT does not meet scientific standards for efficacy that would justify its practice by audiologists and speech-language pathologists, therefore, insurance will not cover this expense. There are two main methods – Berard Training and Tomatis. The most common improvements reported by parents include a reduction in sound sensitivity, improvement in attention and listening, and a decrease in behavioral issues. To read detailed information on studies showing some positive results visit the Autism Research Institute

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Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

According to a 2013 Study, “Sensory Response Patterns in Nonverbal Children with ASD”, it is estimated that 25 to 50% of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) never develop spoken language beyond a few words or utterances.  Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) refers to communication methods that help or replace speaking or writing for individuals who struggle to production or comprehend spoken or written language.  AAC includes simple systems such as pictures, gestures, and pointing, as well as more complex techniques involving computer technology.

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Behavioral Therapy (BHT or ABA)

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a subfield of psychology and has become the gold standard of treatment for autism spectrum disorders. ABA-based approaches to autism intervention are effective and have shown to be the most scientifically validated treatment for ASD.

ABA is defined as the process of applying behavioral principles to change specific behaviors and simultaneously evaluating the effectiveness of the intervention. ABA emphasizes both prevention and remediation of problem behavior. These interventions should typically be provided under the supervision of a trained behavioral psychologist or behavior analyst (BCBA). There is an ongoing debate about the amount of ABA needed in order for it to be optimally effective, with recommendations typically ranging from 15 to 40 hours per week, depending on whether ABA is being applied to comprehensive educational programming in the schools or to a targeted behavioral treatment program. Training caregivers to provide ABA in the home or community settings is an important part of most ABA programs.  This intervention can be used with all ages and ability levels, and ABA principles are often included as part of effective early intensive intervention programs.  Numerous empirical studies have documented the effectiveness of ABA with individuals with ASD.

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Biomedical Interventions

In practice, most people use the term to refer to a group of interventions which are designed to stop, or at least reduce, the effect of biomedical problems (such as gastrointestinal abnormalities, immune dysfunctions, detoxification abnormalities, and/or nutritional deficiencies or imbalances).

The supporters of biomedical interventions believe that these biomedical problems act as triggers which cause, or make worse, many of the problems faced by people on the autism spectrum. They believe that those problems can be solved, or at least reduced, by following one or more biomedical interventions.

There is a vast range of biomedical interventions, many of which are considered to be forms of complementary or alternative medicine by most traditional health care practitioners. Biomedical interventions include diets, nutritional supplements and hormones, the “off-label” use of some medications, as well as practices such as chelation and hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

This type of therapy isn’t considered evidence-based or medically necessary and often is not covered by insurance.

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Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Older children, teens, and adults with ASD may benefit from another intervention with a behavioral component – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is used primarily to help individuals with ASD regulate their emotions, develop impulse control, and improve their behavior as a result. In addition, some individuals with autism struggle with fears and anxiety, or may become depressed. CBT has been shown to be helpful for reducing anxious and depressed feelings and behavior by making changes in thoughts and perceptions of situations through a change in cognition. What distinguishes CBT from regular behavior therapy, is working on changing how thinking is processed. Therapists seek to reduce challenging behaviors, such as interruptions, obsessions, meltdowns or angry outbursts, while also teaching individuals how to become familiar with and manage certain feelings that may arise.  This is an evidenced-based therapy.

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Developmental Therapy (also known as DIR/Play Therapy/Floortime)
DIR is the Developmental, Individual-differences, & Relationship-based model (pronounced saying each letter as an initialism: D.I.R.).  It was developed by Dr. Stanley Greenspan to provide a foundational framework for understanding human development.  It is based on the  critical role of social-emotional development starting at birth and continuing throughout the lifespan.  It also provides a framework for understanding how each person individually perceives and interacts with the world differently.  The model highlights the power of relationships and emotional connections to fuel development.  There is some controversy if it has met all the criteria for evidence-based. 
Feeding Therapy

Many children with autism are picky eaters, but “feeding problems” are a serious issue. A child may be extremely selective about what food he or she will eat, or refuse food altogether. The child may vomit or gag when food is presented. A variety of negative behaviors may have also developed around food and eating, such as major meltdowns whenever a parent is presenting the child with food.  Feeding disorders typically involve extreme selectivity and sensory-related aversions to food tastes and/or textures. Sometimes they also involve difficulty with chewing and swallowing. Read more…

Medication

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved a medicine for treating autism’s three core characteristics.  Risperidone and aripiprazole have been approved for treating irritability associated with the autism.

Neurofeedback

Neurofeedback can also be called EEG biofeedback or neurotherapy.  s of 2018, neurofeedback does not have enough studies and is not considered an evidence-based practice for autism.  Using technology, patients learn to improve your brain function through intensive brain training exercises. Local resources…

Occupational Therapy (OT)

Occupational therapy is an evidence-based practice to address sensory issues and equip parents to manage their child’s behavior more successfully. Problems with sensory processing can explain why children with autism may not like noise, being touched, or the feel of certain clothing.  An occupational therapist works to develop skills for motor planning, gross motor, fine motor, handwriting, fine motor skills, visual motor skills, oral motor skills, and daily living skills. Read more…

Physical Therapy (PT)

Physical therapy is an evidence-based practice in which physical therapists work with families and caregivers to increase a child’s participation in routines of daily life that are challenging. They promote opportunities during free play and structured play to develop and practice the movement skills common to your child’s age group. Physical therapists work on increasing strength and coordination and walking safely and efficiently in all needed environments, such as negotiating stairs. Read more…

Social Skills Training

Having social and communication impairments are some of the key features of autism.  Social Skills Training is an evidence-based practice.  Social Skills Training refers to any adult-directed instruction in which social skills are targeted for improvement.

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Speech and Language Therapies

Severe deficits in language and communication is another core feature of autism.  As autism is a spectrum, the communication challenges children with autism have a wide range as well.   Some children with ASD may not be able to communicate using speech or language, and some may have very limited speaking skills.  Some have difficulties understanding what others say to them. They may also often have difficulties communicating nonverbally, such as through hand gestures, eye contact, and facial expressions.  Others with autism may have rich vocabularies and be able to talk about specific subjects in great detail. Many have problems with the meaning and rhythm of words and sentences. They also may be unable to understand body language and the meanings of different vocal tones. These difficulties affect the ability of children with ASD to interact with others, especially people their own age. Read more…

Vision Therapy

Vision therapy may be effective in helping patients on the autism spectrum who have disorders such as poor depth perception, poor eye-hand coordination, lack of awareness of one’s physical place within an area, and poor eye contact. Read more…

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