Contrary to popular belief, there are therapies which can lead toward your child’s development.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)

ABA is a type of therapy that works in a systematic way to reduce unwanted behaviors and increase or teach wanted behaviors. ABA therapist work with only observable behaviors that can be measured.

For example, an ABA therapist may work on toilet training, eye contact, and reducing self-injurious behaviors such as head banging, biting, and eye poking. Usually, the child works directly with the therapist in a one-to-one situation. The child will receive rewards for desirable behavior and may be ignored for unwanted behaviors in order to work toward set goals. The primary care givers may also be taught how to work with their child to increase skills.

Note: ABA is typically conducted by a certified Applied Behavior Analysis Therapist. This type of therapy is usually not offered in the school settings in a one-to-one setting all day long, as it is costly. Parents are encouraged to seek private ABA therapy in addition to the school provided instruction.

Biomedical Interventions

Biomedical interventions address an individuals underlying weaknesses or cause/s of disease. In the process their body is able to heal and their symptoms improve. As an example, a recent study used faecal transplants to heal chronic gastrointestinal issues in autistic children.

Speech Therapy

The focus of this therapy is to improve articulation (speech or how words are spoken).This could involve building tongue and lip muscles (oral-motor), vocal sounds, and swallowing.

Language Therapy

The focus of this type of therapy is to improve both verbal and non-verbal communication. The therapist can work to increase how well a person understands what others are saying (receptive communication). For example, when you ask a child to follow a one-step command such as “give me the cup” or a two-step command “wash your hands and dry them.” The therapist can also work on teaching how to communicate so others understand your child’s wants and needs (expressive communication). This may involve teaching a child to move from one-word responses to three-word responses such as, “milk” to “I milk” to “I want milk.” The language pathologist can also teach children to gesture for things they want or need, improve facial expressions, and eye contact.

Occupational Therapy (OT)

This type of therapy may work to improve daily living skills, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, and many other areas. Daily living skills include: dressing, feeding, bathing, toileting, etc. Fine motor skills are important small movements that we learn such as pinching or grasping things with the thumb and index finger. Fine motor skills also includes using scissors, holding a crayon or pencil and writing, zipping and buttoning. Gross motor skills involve larger movements such as jumping, hopping, skipping, throwing, running, and walking.

Gluten Free Casein Free Diet

Often called “the diet” among parents who are familiar with it, the gluten free casein free diet (also known as GF/CF diet ) involves removing the proteins gluten (found in wheat, barley, rye and sometimes oats) and casein (found in milk products). The Autism Research Institute maintains a database of parent ratings of Behavioral Effects of Biomedical Interventions. According to the database, of the 2561 parents that tried the GF/CF diet with their children, 66% said they saw improvement. When there are digestive issues (as is the case with many children on the autism spectrum), gluten and casein are unable to digest properly and can cause neurological issues, mood swings and behavior problems.

Adherence to the GF/CF diet includes not only removing wheat, barley, rye and dairy products but also checking ingredients in products and familiarizing oneself with ingredients that may contain hidden sources of these proteins. Sometimes the benefits are seen rather quickly; however, sometimes it can be months until results are seen.

You Can Help to Bring Hope to Families Affected by Autism and Other Intellectual Disabilities