About one in 68 children in the United States has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASD is a brain-based developmental disability that affects communication, social skills and behavior.
Therapy for autism can help kids improve their skills and learn to live a normal life. It can also help people with ASD cope with depression or anxiety, and improve their relationships with others.
A therapist can help your child develop the skills that they need to lead a normal life, whether that means learning how to use a teddy bear or playing a musical instrument. Some therapists specialize in specific areas, such as speech-language therapy or occupational therapy.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and related therapies are considered the “gold standard” of autism-specific treatment. These therapy methods use positive reinforcement to change a child’s behaviors. They may be used alone or as part of a school-based program.
These therapies and supports work on your child’s social, communication, and everyday living skills in regular, structured settings. Research shows that these approaches can help your child develop better relationships and communication.
Some of these therapies can be done on their own, but they usually require a lot of support from a team of professionals, including a therapist, family members and other caregivers. Your therapist will help you choose the right combination of therapies for your child.
A therapist can teach your child how to communicate with others using nonverbal cues such as eye contact or hand signals. This can be a valuable skill to have, especially for kids who do not have good verbal skills.
Your child’s therapist will also work with your family to improve communication between you and your child. They will give you tips and advice on how to support your child’s needs at home and at school.
Psychological approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can also help your child manage their emotions and behaviors. During CBT, your therapist will help you identify negative thoughts and feelings that are causing your child’s problems and then suggest ways to change them.
You can also use medication to treat some of your child’s symptoms. But before you decide to try any type of medication, your therapist should talk with you about the possible side effects and how it might impact your child’s treatment goals.
Physical therapy, or PT, is an effective way to build your child’s motor skills and enhance their independence. This type of therapy can also be useful for older children and adults with ASD, since it helps them improve their posture and coordination.
Occupational therapy can help your child with fine motor skills, such as handwriting or using a computer keyboard. OT can also teach your child how to use assistive devices, such as a speech-to-text app or a dry-erase board, to help them complete tasks.
A therapist can also teach your child how to make eye contact, respond to people’s facial expressions and body language, and show them that they are appreciated for who they are. This can be very beneficial for young children, who may be very withdrawn or shy and need extra attention and encouragement.