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Approaches to Treating Autism
The following is merely an overview of some of the treatment approaches, and as I’m not a medical profressional, it’s important to remember to seek medical advice for any suspected disorders and/or health issues! As the signs of autism vary, in addition to different causes and manifestations in people, treatment will differ from person to person and often needs to be tailor-made for the individual. Below are some considered approaches, though its important to bear in mind that the safety and effectiveness of some therapies used to treat autism is not known. Many unproven treatments circulate through Web sites, word of mouth, or the media. Most have not been subjected to thorough, sound research and are considered nonstandard and controversial. Be especially cautious about a treatment if:
- The treatment is based upon oversimplified scientific theories
- It benefits more than one condition
- It provides dramatic and “miraculous” results
Educational and Therapeutic Approaches
Behavioral training and management . Behavioral training and management uses positive reinforcement, self-help, and social skills training to improve behavior and communication. Many types of treatments have been developed, including Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH), and sensory integration.
This includes specialized education as well as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, music therapy, sensory integration, behavior modification, and speech therapy. Depending on the symptoms and the areas of developmental delay, these therapies can be extremely effective and combined into the overall treatment plan.
The earlier they are begun, the better the chances of improvement. It is important to realize that none of these therapies are ‘quick fixes’, and require perseverance over a long period of time. To learn more, click here.
There are indications that certain vitamins and mineral supplements may improve functioning in autistic people. While there is some disagreement regarding this amongst medical professionals, many parents have reported marked improvements after a program of nutritional supplements.
There are also a number of clinical studies which strongly support the use of vitamin and mineral supplementation in the treatment of autism, and have demonstrated significant improvement.
As nutrition is such a vital ingredient in brain development, it stands to reason that supplementation may have a positive benefit, although this would vary from individual to individual. Some experts have gone as far as to suggest that certain cases of autism could be as a result of nutritional deficiencies or malabsorption of nutrients from the diet.
This subject is a very complex one and outside the scope of this discussion. However, it is strongly suggested that parents consult a physician, homeopath, or nutritional expert who specializes in using supplements in the treatment of autism, and that this approach be integrated into the intervention program.
There are also suggestions that autistic symptoms can be caused as a result of malabsorption and intolerances to certain foodstuffs, especially dairy products, sugar, and gluten contained in wheat and grain products.
Some parents have reported remarkable changes after the elimination of these foodstuffs from the diets of their autistic children. It is recommended that a nutritionist be consulted to assist with insuring a balanced diet to compensate for the removal of foods containing dairy and gluten.
There are many different medications that are prescribed to treat the symptoms of autism. While no drugs exist that can cure autism, certain drugs may be prescribed to treat the symptoms.
Whether or not to use prescription drugs is a personal choice that needs to be made on the basis of an informed decision as to the benefits and disadvantages involved. It is always important to balance symptomatic relief of symptoms with possible side effects and health disadvantages.
If prescription drugs are used, it is essential that these are prescribed and regularly monitored by an experienced professional to prevent dosage problems as well as adverse drug interactions.
It is also important to realize that there are effective natural treatments for autism using herbal and homeopathic remedies instead of prescription drugs. As with any medication, it is always best to consult your doctor before changing or discontinuing any prescribed medicines.
Gluten and casein get a lot of attention in the autism community and from doctors in the Autism Research Institute’s biomedical movement. While I don’t have first-hand knowledge of the benefits of a gluten and dairy/casein free diet helping with Autism symptoms, I have heard many times by naturapathic doctors and nutritionists that it has helped hundreds, if not thousands, of children.
Some parents, doctors and researchers say that children have shown mild to dramatic improvements in speech and/or behavior after these substances were removed from their diet. Some also report that their children have experienced fewer bouts of constipation and diarrhea since starting a gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet.
Author Karyn Seroussi says her son has no traces of autism, due in large part to a strict GFCF diet. Autism advocate Donna Williams, who has autism, says she has been helped by “nutritional supplements together with a dairy/gluten-free and low Salicylate diet.” (Salicylates are found in some fruits likes apples and other foods). Some people report no benefits from the GFCF diet.
Click here to read more about a gluten-free, casein-free diet and the potential benefits over Autism.
I wish you luck in your journey to improved health!
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