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Autism  or  Autism  Spectrum  Disorder  (ASD)  is  a  neurological  disorder  which  affects  the  brain resulting  developmental  delay  or  disability.  Children   with  Autism  see  the world  differently.  Autistic children have speech   delay    or  no   speech  at  all  and are very sensitive to sounds, touch and certain textures. They have difficulty to express   themselves    and   to  interact  socially.  As  other  children  observe  and  learn  from  adults  autistic  children  have  difficulty  in  imitating  others.  They like  to  stay  alone  engrossed  in  playing  with  their  favorite  toy  or  arranging  something  in  the same  order  over  and  over  again  or  flapping  their  hands.  These   features  differ  from  one autistic  child  to  other.  Help,  treatment  and  therapy  are  required  by  autistic  children  according  to  their    needs  in  their  individual  condition.

Autism Spectrum disorder is also known as invisible disabilities it is seen in infancy and early childhood. Though we never want to believe that there is something wrong with our precious bundle of joy early knowledge of autism makes a huge difference. There are no particular indicators as the signs and symptoms since it differs in different children in different ways. When children doesn’t meet physical, mental, language and social development to typical children of same age the child has to be tested. Some possible early signs are:-

        Does not babble, point or meaningfully gesture by 1 year
-          Does not speak any word by sixteen months
-          Does not combine two words by two years
-          Does not respond to his/her name
-          Loses language or social skills
-          Avoids eye contact
-          Doesn’t know how to play with toys
-          Arranging toys or objects in the same way over and over
-          Is attached to one particular toy
-          Doesn’t smile
-          Sometimes seems not to hear
-          Does not imitate

Autism Treatments and Interventions

There are many treatment methods and interventions used for autism. I've listed a brief description of some of the most common treatments practiced for helping autistic children and adults. 

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the different approaches used to teach new skills to autistic children in social verbal behaviors and relationship building. Some ABA approaches are Discreet Trial Training which is to break down tasks into small easy steps that children can follow without difficulty, Reward System to appreciate and motivate children to respond.ABA also emphasis set up of an environment which enable and appeals our children, ABA includes teaching play skills through peer modeling. The intensive one-on-one method of ABA can be used at home and at school.


Dietary Intervention
Dietary  approach  is  one  of  the  many  areas  among which research  is  being done regarding Autism.
Gluten  and  Casein  free  diet  also  known as  GFCF  is  based  on  observation  that  Autism children  easily  get  food  allergies, yeast,  gastrointestinal  problems  and  inability  to  break down  certain  protein.  Since  evidence  shows Autism children have deficiencies in vitamins and  minerals  they  cannot  digest  gluten  and  casein  properly. GFCF is  the  removal  of gluten  (a  specific  type  of  protein  found  in  wheat,  rye  and  some  other  grains)  and removal  of all casein  ( a  milk  phosphor  protein  found  in  most  dairy  products)  from  the diet.
Gluten   is found in most types of cereals and bread. There are grains which do not have gluten  like  wild  rice,  corn,  buckwheat, millet, amaranth, quinoa, teff, oats,  soybeans, and sunflower  seeds.  Casein   is   present in milk from all mammals.  It  is  found  in  dairy  products such  as  cheese,  milk  and  yogurt  also  present  in  emulsifying  and  binding  agent  in numerous  processed  foods.

Early Intervention
Early Intervention means to begin treatment as soon as possible after the diagnosis of autism.  Early intervention leads to better treatment. Study shows that ability to shape a child’s brain is at its maximum when the child is very young. Early diagnosis can enable proper and consistent intervention. 

Floortime or DIR (Developmental Individual-Difference Relationship based) is an intensive one on one intervention where parent, therapist or teacher follow a child’s lead to their own interests and challenge the child to increase their social emotional and intellectual capacities. Floortime is focused on enhancing a child’s particular interests and motivations. Floortime helps children learn to relate, communicate and reflect. In a 20 to 30 minute long floortime session the parent, therapist or teacher gets down on the floor to interact and play with the child. These play activities include various problem solving exercises.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a treatment in which pure pressurized oxygen is given to the whole body in a hyperbaric oxygen filled chamber or tube. Hyperbaric therapy speed the development of blood vessels. It is a treatment used for air embolisms, decompression sickness, or soft tissue infections. It is the theory of some doctors that HBOT could improve symptoms of autism by increasing oxygen intake and thus reducing inflammation and lack of oxygen in the brain. HBOT is conducted in a hospital setting.

There is no medication to cure autism but there are medications used to treat specific symptoms which interferes education and create danger like self injurious behavior. Medications may be used to treat behavioral problems, attention disorders, anxiety and depression. Medication also can help increase effectiveness of other interventions. Like all medicines, medications used to treat autism, have their benefits and may have side effects also since children with Autism do not respond to medicines as typical children.

Music Therapy
As music is something that gives positive vibes to the mind everyone prefers some sort of music. Music therapy for autism children is an application used to improve attention, coordination and interaction. It is evident that autistic children have an unusual sensitivity towards music. Music is a non verbal form of communication it reduces blood pressure, eases muscle tension and encourages physical movements. Music gives the feeling of security and peace which reduce the hypertension and depression in autistic children. Music therapy classes engage autistic children in variety of listening experiences and performances to music

Occupation Therapy

Occupational therapy helps autistic children to increase their abilities to perform normal day to day routine activities. The activities involved to strengthen muscles and gain body weight balance, helps autistic children to master abilities where they lack in fine, gross and oral motor skills. Gross motor skills include catching, throwing a ball, climbing up or down and self help activities. Fine motor skills are actions like holding a pencil, coloring, drawing, writing, tying shoe laces, fastening buttons and zippers etc. Autistic children with less oral motor control are given treatment to improve oral motor skills. These children experience drooling to a later age, difficulty in chewing solid food, frowning, blowing and are common to have speech delay. Some of the equipments used for occupation therapy sessions are swings, trampolines, climbing walls, bean bags, weights etc.

Pet therapy
Children with autism respond well to pet therapy. They have a certain bond with animals. Some autistic children can understand, feel and communicate without words which make them create an easy relationship with animals. In company of pets they feel secure and loved. It boosts their self confidence, trust and sense of responsibility. Being with their pet animal also helps them to learn to interact more socially and the violent behaviors of autistic children disappear when they play with pets. As therapies benefit in various extents to each individual autistic child, pet therapy is also more effective to some children. Different types of pets help in different ways to autistic children. Most common pet therapies are:-

Horseback riding
Therapeutic horseback riding teaches autistic children to ride independently. Independent horseback riding is enjoyable and it also improves their posture, balance, motor skills and muscle tone.

Service dogs
A dog is a good companion to autistic Children. The dog not only protects and supports the child, the company of a dog make children with autism learn to reciprocate their feelings. There are special trained service dogs available as an aid for autistic children.

Dolphin therapy
Dolphins have a healing effect on patients with neurological disorders. A dolphin has a positive attitude towards humans and likes to get connected. Their tender and playful nature helps children with Autism to increase their functional skills while playing with them in water.

Sensory Integration
Autism children are unable to use their senses of sight, smell, touch, sound and balance in connection with their environment. Sensory integration helps to stimulate and test all their senses. Fun and playful therapeutic activities are designed in favorable ways for the child to inhabit new behaviors and participate happily. Sensory Integration engages taking information from the senses to the brain and applying that information in functions of daily activities.
Sensory Integration therapy assess whether the child is over stimulated or under stimulated on basis of this, activities are organized to teach the child to absorb their senses better and relate them to the surrounding atmosphere.

Speech Therapy
Speech therapy helps a child to communicate verbally and nonverbally. Autistic children with speech problems have different kinds of errors in their speech. Some children do not talk at all, some children babble word like sounds, some children talk in a sing song way, some children use ‘unintelligible’ or ’ foreign’ sounding  words. Some children have repetitive speech called echolalia and some children speak the words but without any expressive tone.
Autistic children need to learn how to use language in order to communicate. Speech language pathologists (SLP) who specialize in treating speech and language problems assess the autistic children with speech problem and provide interventions that help the child to form words or to communicate to express himself. The therapist may use augmentative treatment methods for non-verbal children such as sign language, electronic ”talkers,” communication boards, Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS).

Vitamins and minerals
Vitamins and mineral approach is used on basis that some autistic children have metabolic error which can be overcome by larger amounts of certain vitamins. Since different children various nutrients it is best to consult a nutritionist. Vitamin B6 and magnesium mixture is the most popular vitamins and mineral used for autism children it reduces Behavior problems and increase attention and eye contact. Some of the other vitamins and minerals include cod liver oil supplements, calcium and vitamins A,B1,B5,B12 and C

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