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Exploring Alternative Treatments for Children with Autism: A Parent’s Guide

by Althea Kling
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As a parent of a child with autism, you know that finding the right treatment can be a daunting task.

Traditional therapy methods such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Speech therapy are widely recognized and often covered by insurance, but they may not work for every child.

That’s why it’s important to explore alternative treatments for children with autism that may be better suited to your child’s unique needs.

What Are Alternative Treatments?

Alternative treatments refer to any therapy or intervention that falls outside of the traditional therapy methods. For example, Occupational therapy, Speech therapy, Music therapy, Art therapy, Yoga therapy, Equine therapy, or Biomedical interventions.

Alternative treatments can help to improve communication skills, social interaction, and self-care abilities.

They can also help to reduce challenging behaviors, improve sensory processing, and increase overall well-being.

Many alternative treatments are also designed to be fun and engaging, which can help to keep children motivated and interested in therapy.

Overview of Different Alternative Treatments

Here are some of the most common alternative treatments developed for autistic children:

1. Occupational therapy

Occupational therapy (OT) is a field of healthcare that helps people with injuries, disabilities, or other conditions, including autism.

For people with autism, OT programs often focus on play skills, learning strategies, and self-care. OT strategies can also help to manage sensory issues and practice these strategies outside of therapy sessions at home and in other settings such as school.

Occupational therapists may use screening tools such as an autism checklist or the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) to evaluate the particular issue a person is dealing with.

Occupational therapists cannot diagnose autism but can provide advice and interventions to target each sense to help the child’s nervous system become more organized and regulated.

2. Speech therapy

Speech therapy for autistic children can help them improve their verbal, nonverbal, and social communication.

Speech-language therapy activities can include teaching essential words, improving social skills and behaviors, and using AAC methods to communicate.

Speech therapy exercises for children with autism can be done at home under the supervision of a parent or caregiver.

Examples of speech therapy exercises include making animal noises, teaching essential words, using favorite toys and objects to communicate, making eye contact, standing at a comfortable distance from others, playing games and role-playing with peers, and developing deeper friendships.

Best alternative treatments for children with autism
best alternative treatments for children with autism

3. Art therapy

Art therapy has also been found to be beneficial for children with autism.

It offers an opportunity for therapists to work one-on-one with individuals on the autism spectrum to build a wide range of skills in a manner that is less over-stimulating than other activities, according to Blossom Children’s Centre.

Art therapy can help improve communication, imagination, abstract thinking, and social skills, as well as provide an environment that is conducive to assessing cognitive development and behavior.

One study examined the effects of art therapy on a seven-year-old boy with autism and found that after twenty-seven art sessions, the child’s social interactions improved significantly.

Painting therapy specifically has been found to be effective in improving social interactions in autistic children.

4. Equine therapy

Equine therapy can help autistic children by providing them with an opportunity to follow directions through a fun activity, which makes taking directions easier to grasp and remember.

It also gives them the chance to give the horse direction, which provides more opportunities to communicate.

Equine therapy can also help autistic children by providing them with calming rocking or bouncing movements that are replicated by the three-dimensional movement of a horse.

This can help reduce anxiety and stress levels.

Let’s Ride Therapeutic Equestrian Program is an example of an equine therapy program for adults and children with disabilities in the Los Angeles area.

Final Words

Whichever treatment path you choose for your kid, remember to work with a qualified practitioner, check with your insurance company, and stay informed about the latest research.

With the right alternative treatments for children with autism, your child can reach their full potential.

Remember, early intervention is key to helping your child with autism to achieve the best outcome. So, don’t be afraid to explore different options and try different approaches for autism children until you find the right fit for your child.

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