Methods and Strategies: Other Treatment Protocols and Specialized Programs

What follows is an overview of other treatment options available to individuals with autism. This is not an exhaustive list, and it is intended to provide a general overview of available options as opposed to specific treatment recommendations. Some of the therapies and treatments listed in this next section are not viewed as credible approaches by some medical and professional associations.

 

Auditory Integration Training
The technique of auditory integration training may help some individuals who are oversensitive (hypersensitive) to sounds. The individual listens to a variety of sound frequencies, coordinated to his or her level of impairment. Auditory training is performed by an audiologist trained in this method.

Diet/Vitamins
Some individuals with autism exhibit low tolerance for and/or allergies to a variety of
substances, such as yeast and gluten. Although no rigorous scientific studies support the idea that dietary modifications reduce or eliminate symptoms of autism, some professionals and parents have reported positive changes in behavior following the modifications. Vitamin supplements have been reported by some parents to affect particular behaviors, such as increasing attention spans.

Facilitated Communication
Facilitated communication is a technique by which a trained professional, the "facilitator," supports the hand, arm or shoulder of the individual who has communication impairments. This method helps the individual to point to or press the keys of a communication device to spell out words.

Medications
There is no single medication to treat autism, but a wide variety of them have been prescribed to alleviate symptoms such as aggression, seizures, inattention, hyperactivity, anxiety or obsessive/compulsive behaviors. For information on the use of medications, parents should consult a physician who has experience in treating the symptoms of autism.

Music Therapy
When used in a structured setting, music can be incorporated into the teaching of cognitive, motor and daily living skills. Effective for some individuals with autism, music therapy may be provided in a private setting or included in a child's early intervention or school program.

Vision
Some individuals with autism experience vision difficulties, such as poor eye contact, difficulty with visual attending, visual fixation and hyper- or hypo- sensitivity to light and/or color. Developmental or behavioral optometrists may be able to treat them. They believe that some of the unusual behaviors associated with autism may be related to visual-perceptual problems. Treatments include specialized colored or prism lenses and vision exercises.

Other Treatments
The treatments mentioned above are not a comprehensive list of all options available to individuals with autism. There are a variety of others, including therapy using animals, treatments to reduce yeast in the body and cranial-sacral therapy. Families and professionals are advised to research and evaluate all treatments carefully.

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