There is no cure for autism, but early diagnosis and treatment should be initiated to improve an autistic child’s social development, language, and behavior skills. 40% of children diagnosed with autism may never speak, so speech therapy may be initiated to develop language skills or teach alternate communicate methods through sign language and gestures. Additional therapies can be provided to develop social skills and coping mechanisms to adapt to change, function and perform activities daily living alone and at functional levels. Interventions can include applied behavioral analysis, occupational and physical therapy, and sensory integration therapy. Applied behaviors analysis is designed to correct undesirable behaviors and to teach skills for appropriate behaviors in given everyday situations. Treatment is often intense and several hours a week must be devoted to the on-on-on therapy sessions to obtain the desired outcomes. The behavioral therapist must work closely with parents, and schools in order to reinforce desirable behaviors and make on the spot corrections for behaviors that are to be eliminated. Medications may be necessary to treat hyperactivity, aggression, depression, and mood swings. Antidepressants, antipsychotic, and neurological stimulants may be included in an autism treatment plan depending upon the symptoms presented by the child.
A family’s ability to cope with a diagnosis of autism can have a major impact on the treatment and quality of life of a child diagnosed with the disease. Community support and parent training can be done in homes, specialized therapy centers or preschools in order to create social connections and manage destructive behaviors that may accompany autism. Support groups and family counseling may be offered in order for parents to progress through the stages of grieving and offer their children maximum support. Given any treatment involving children medication dosage and side effects have to be monitored very closes.
Side effects associated with some autism drugs include insomnia, heavy sedation, weight loss, or weigh gain and in some instances dependency develops. Given advances in education and federal law children with autism are educated and in mainstream public schools with non-disabled peers in order to come in contact with age appropriate language and social interactions. Other treatment methods work to prevent additional complications frequently associated with autism. Autistic individuals routinely have food sensitivities and allergies, care should be taken to avoid allergic foods, administering digestive enzymes to help facilitate better digestion, and introducing a 4-day rotation of foods as to decrease the likelihood of developing food allergies.