In general, the traditional approach to treating autism includes behavioral therapy and special education. Many different programs are available to help address the social, language, and behavioral problems associated with autism.
Although no medication is specifically designed for autism, some patients may benefit from medications. However, medications do not treat the underlying cause of autism. Instead, they help treat the symptoms of the disorder. For instance, some patients may benefit from medications to help treat hyperactivity, short attention span, and seizures, which are often associated with autism. Parents and caregivers should talk with the patient's healthcare providers about the potential side effects and benefits of medications before starting treatment.
Behavioral therapy: The foundation of autism treatment is behavioral therapy. For more than 30 years, several different types of behavioral therapy have helped autistic patients improve their communication and social skills, as well as their learning abilities and adaptive behaviors. Behavioral therapy has been shown to reduce inappropriate behavior, including aggressive behavior, in autistic children. Evidence suggests that behavioral therapy is most effective if it is started early in life, when the patient is three to four years old or younger.
Education: Autistic patients must receive education that is tailored to their specific strengths and weaknesses. According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, all children with disabilities, including autism, must receive free and appropriate education. According to the law, members of the patient's school should consult with the patient's parents or caregivers to design and write an individualized education plan. Once all parties agree with the plan, the educational program should be started. The school faculty should document the child's progress in order to ensure that the child's needs are being met.
Lifestyle: Most children with autism respond well to structured schedules or routines.
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