Many children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show developmental differences when they are babies—especially in their social and language skills. Once you have spoken to your pediatrician about your questions or concerns you may be wondering what kind of therapy options are there for children that are on and Autism Spectrum.
The following will explore therapy for children with an autism spectrum disorder. The focus will be on the variety of therapeutic options available as well as what these therapies entail.
Of course, before beginning, it’s important to note that every child is different. This means that every child with autism spectrum disorder and every therapist is different. Because of this, no therapy session will be exactly like another. When seeking out therapeutic treatments, it’s always a good idea to let your inner sense of the situation guide you; pay attention to the cues your child gives you, both verbal and non-verbal. Trust and comfort are vital for effective therapy.
Applied Behavior Analysis
Often referred to as ABA, this form of therapy is probably the most commonly used on children with an autism spectrum disorder. The focus is on improving social skills, improving competency when it comes to language, using positive reinforcement techniques, offering meaningful rewards and consequences, and enhancing good behavior; behavior centered therapy often produces measurable, visible results. It is absolutely vital that if you’re considering this therapy for a child in your life, you and the therapist in question have an understanding of what good behavior is.
Many behaviors among children with autism spectrum disorder are highly effective expressions of needs. Make sure that every behavior that is worked on has a replacement option so that children can still get their needs met, even if those needs are simple things like taking a break or going home because they’re overwhelmed. It is utterly essential that a child be allowed to refuse treatment if they are not comfortable with it.
Relationship Development Intervention
Often referred to as RDI, this form of therapy focuses on educating children with autism on methods for forming bonds with people, particularly parents and other family members. This is often a family-based therapy that actively involves parents and requires at-home practices to be employed.
Nature teaches all young mammals through play. Play therapy can help children with autism spectrum disorder how to interact with people in a way that’s easy for them to understand. Because autism impacts how children play with other children, this form of therapy can also help children in social situations where other young people are present. It can improve engagement and collaborative play resulting in relationship building.
Equestrian therapy presents children with autism with the opportunity to ride horses in an environment that emphasizes safety and lack of threatening elements. A therapist will guide both the horse and the child. While this might seem like an unusual way to conduct therapy, studies find that therapeutic horseback riding benefits social skills and communication skills while also reducing irritability and hyper behaviors.
Depending on the degree of symptoms a child with autism is experiencing, speech therapy may be effective. Typically those who are on the higher-functioning end of the scale benefit, whereas those who have particularly severe symptoms struggle to glean a positive impact from speech therapy.
Often referenced as CBT therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy is a form of therapy that is widely considered to be among the most effective forms of therapy for a whole bunch of things. CBT focuses on functional solutions to daily problems as well as facing fears with consent in a safe environment to dramatically reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. A simple practice like thinking about and describing an elevator if a child is afraid of elevators is an example of CBT. CBT can also help kids gradually grow accustomed to things that cause them difficulty making it an excellent choice for those who have severe emotional struggles that interfere with their ability to lead a full life.
Working with a therapist while listening to music can result in enhanced emotional connections. It can also help children with autism spectrum disorder regulate their own emotions and relate to others’ emotions.
The above information should have given you a few ideas of different therapies available for kids with an autism spectrum disorder. Again, every child is different; their symptoms are going to be different, and the environments and activities that make them feel comfortable are going to be different. It’s okay if it takes some time to find the right option for your child. It is vitally important that you are seeking therapies that help your little one with the things that cause them unhappiness or discomfort. If that makes your job or relationship easier, that’s wonderful, but your preferences for their behavior should not be the main motivation for choosing a certain therapy style.