Choosing the Top Autism Treatment Center
Autism is not a single diagnosis, but a spectrum disorder, which means that those who struggle with the issue may have different symptoms in different severities, often related to communication and levels of comfort with different levels of sensory inputs, including touch, light and sound. Many also display repetitive behaviors, organize things in a specific way, and are averse to change, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).
Autism Is a Spectrum Disorder
On one end of the spectrum are children diagnosed with autistic disorder or classical ASD, the most severe form of autism, and on the other end of the spectrum is Asperger syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) – milder forms of the disorder.
Autism Quick Facts
- Boys are 4 times more likely to develop autism than girls.
- It is estimated that 1 in 88 children will be diagnosed on the autism spectrum, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
- Autism affects people of every culture, ethnicity and age.
Early Signs of Autism
- Lack of eye contact
- No smiling
- Doesn’t respond to his name
- No social response or bonding to parents
- No babbling by age 1
- No single words by 18 months and no two-word phrases by 24 months
- Lines up toys repetitively
- Develop language and social skills but then loses those skills (child disintegrative disorder)
What Causes Autism?
This quintessential question is the subject of hundreds of different studies every year. However, it’s a question that remains unanswered, though numerous theories are in play. There does seem to be some genetic link; parents who have one child with autism have a one in 20 chance of having another child with autism, which is higher than the general population. In identical twin studies, if one twin has autism, the other twin has a 90-percent chance of developing a diagnosis somewhere on the autism spectrum as well.
It’s not just genetics, though. Environment likely plays a role. There have been some studies that suggest autism may be due in part to disruption to normal fetal development in the womb caused by gene mutations and defects that may have occurred due to environmental factors.
Autism Treatment: What to Expect
The earlier that a child is diagnosed on the autism spectrum, the quicker he can begin intervention and treatment and the more successful he will be in mastering the symptoms of autism and learning how to adapt and communicate. The three most common parts of ASD treatment include:
- Medication. This is an ever-evolving aspect of treatment as the different medications and dosages will change as he makes progress in therapy and as he grows physically, changing how his body chemistry reacts with the medication. Often medications that are prescribed for obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, ADHD or anxiety are prescribed for those living with autism. If seizures or severe behavioral issues are a problem, anticonvulsant drugs and antipsychotics may be prescribed, respectively.
- Behavior therapies. A behavioral plan, an occupational therapy plan, and an academic plan are developed and designed to work together. Goals are created that start with a baseline (where your child is now) with specific directions to measure progress. For example, for behavior, if your child tantrums when asked to brush his teeth 10 out of 10 times, then the goal may be to drop that to tantrums that occur 5 out of 10 times when asked to brush his teeth – and then the next goal may be to get him to tantrum 0 out of 10 times. It’s all about measurable progress!
- Occupational therapy. Many children diagnosed with autism have low muscle tone and an inability to manipulate small objects. Occupational therapy may help them to climb, hold and use small objects, and control their bodies to perform specific movements like hopping or skipping.
- Educational therapy. Most kids diagnosed with autism will not progress academically at a rate that is comparable to their typically developing peers. Some can stay in an age-appropriate classroom with an in-class aide, but by second or third grade, it may be necessary for them to be moved to a smaller class with more teachers that provides for more personalized study and slower progress that allows for the absorption of important concepts before moving forward. Goals are an important part of this aspect of treatment as well.
Would you like to learn more about ASD treatment and therapies? Call now to find out how we can help you develop a well-rounded treatment program for your child.