How is autism actually treated? You hear people saying the diagnosis changed their kids life or it’s important to be diagnosed early, but how?

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How is autism actually treated? You hear people saying the diagnosis changed their kids life or it’s important to be diagnosed early, but how?

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48 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Usually by getting professionals to help with the various aspects that the child struggled with. Obviously autism is a spectrum so symptoms and severity of symptoms vary wildly, but in general emotional regulation, communication with peers and adults, understanding social cues are things many people on the spectrum struggle with.

Here in Canada at least, we get a certain amount of funding per year towards occupational therapists, behavioural interventionists, speech therapists and the like. These people can help teach the child the things that most other “neurotypical” kids learn easily at a fairly young age.

It also generally gets them some leeway, as well as additional help at school, such as a dedicated ea (educational assistant – basically someone to be with them to help them navigate day to day stuff, and help them understand),. It also has the school create an IEP (individualized learning plan) to help the teachers and other staff understand the student better, how they work best, how to help if they’re becoming disregulated etc.

Anonymous 0 Comments

This is a much more contentious topic than it may seem.

Theoretically, it’s a lot of teaching coping skills, communication, life skills, working with learning styles, etc.

In practice, much of the actual “treatment” used on children, known as ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis), has practices that ranges from abusive to outright crimes against humanity. Look up the Judge Rotenberg Center if you want to be horrified.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Usually by getting professionals to help with the various aspects that the child struggled with. Obviously autism is a spectrum so symptoms and severity of symptoms vary wildly, but in general emotional regulation, communication with peers and adults, understanding social cues are things many people on the spectrum struggle with.

Here in Canada at least, we get a certain amount of funding per year towards occupational therapists, behavioural interventionists, speech therapists and the like. These people can help teach the child the things that most other “neurotypical” kids learn easily at a fairly young age.

It also generally gets them some leeway, as well as additional help at school, such as a dedicated ea (educational assistant – basically someone to be with them to help them navigate day to day stuff, and help them understand),. It also has the school create an IEP (individualized learning plan) to help the teachers and other staff understand the student better, how they work best, how to help if they’re becoming disregulated etc.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The typical, helpful treatments are things like occupational therapy and speech therapy that empower kids to develop the skills they need but don’t pick up as intuitively as allistic kids. It might be the ability to pronounce certain words or support to learn how to use their body in ways that don’t cause injury. OT especially can support parents to understand their child’s sensory profile and offer alternative options to meet sensory needs that are more appropriate and healthy than whatever they naturally figure out, e.g. replacing self harming sensory behaviour with non harmful options that still meet the underlying need. An analogue for allistic treatments might be training on logical problem solving, which tends to come much more naturally to an autistic child.

As others have said, there’s a school of thought that treating autism is meant to eradicate its presentation. Unfortunately, it’s not possible (as far as we know) to actually alter whether or not someone is autistic – it’s a foundational difference in the way the body and brain perceive and process information, combined with other things, that creates the outward symptoms. For example, many autistic people are highly sensitive to certain sensory information like florescent lights, noise, the feel of clothing on their body, etc. You can force them to act like they’re OK but you can’t actually change the way they experience those senses. So ABA therapy and others like it are essentially an exercise in teaching children to hide their feelings and perform the role of not being autistic. This is largely seen as traumatic and harmful within the community, but is widespread and commonly suggested by medical professionals who aren’t connected with the autistic adult community.

The real value of diagnosis is understanding. Understanding that an autistic brain functions differently, with a guide on how to figure out what those differences are and how to account for and accommodate them. The more an autistic person’s needs are met, the more they will be able to cope with the demands of life and allistic society. If they know they need noise cancelling headphones to tolerate the noise of a shopping trip, they’re much less likely to have a public meltdown from sensory overload, as a small example.

There’s no “treatment” that will “cure” autism. But there are treatments that support healthy autistic development and maximise the ability to function long term.

Anonymous 0 Comments

This is a much more contentious topic than it may seem.

Theoretically, it’s a lot of teaching coping skills, communication, life skills, working with learning styles, etc.

In practice, much of the actual “treatment” used on children, known as ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis), has practices that ranges from abusive to outright crimes against humanity. Look up the Judge Rotenberg Center if you want to be horrified.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Autistic adult and future social worker here: it really depends! A lot of people are big fans of something called applied behavioral analysis (ABA) therapy (think Pavlov’s dogs), wherein an Autistic person (usually a child) is taught “good” behaviors and trained out of “bad” behaviors through positive and negative reinforcement and punishment. An example of a good behavior may be eye contact, whereas a bad behavior may be self-harm or (to use a less extreme example) visible stimming. A lot of Autistic people (myself included) aren’t big fans of ABA due to the subjective nature of good vs. bad behavior and the tendency for ABA practitioners to prioritize and reward stereotypically neurotypical (non-Autistic) behavior over Autistic behaviors.

Other therapies can include cognitive behavioral therapy (my favorite) which focuses on changing maladaptive (bad) cognitions (thought processes) and acceptance and commitment therapy, which uses acceptance and mindfulness to implement behavior change strategies. Autistic people may also undergo life skills training (I did this in a group setting) or other courses, and sometimes have accommodations in school/college/work.

Different things work for different people, so it’s hard to give you a concrete answer for “how is Autism treated?”. It usually involves treating the symptoms the Autistic person finds maladaptive (not helpful) when they can (through therapy/medication/accommodations etc.) and teaching acceptance and coping strategies when they can’t. We’re making great strides in the mental health field towards accepting and supporting Autistic people, but there’s still a long way to go. Thanks for the question! ❤️

Anonymous 0 Comments

The biggest thing with diagnosis, especially early diagnosis, is the knowing. When you have a name for something, you also have resources and support. My son has a disorder with symptoms that overlap with autism and he was diagnosed right around age 2 – had we gotten him diagnosed later, we’d have had a much rougher time of it.

When people aren’t given proper supports for a disorder, they tend to develop maladaptive coping methods, fail to succeed, etc. If someone knows that they struggle to make eye contact because they’re autistic, they can learn ways to cope with that and know they aren’t just weird. Many people with ADHD, for instance, are told they’re lazy, or scatterbrained, or a flake, etc, etc. But they aren’t. Their brains just don’t work the same as everyone else’s. I have OCD, which often involves intrusive thoughts. If a person doesn’t know that intrusive thoughts are normal and not a reflection of who they are (they can run the gamut from self harm to deviant sexuality and more), they can end up suicidal over them.

Autism is no different, for the kids and their caregivers. Diagnosis is life-changing for anyone (autism parents are just the ones in the front row all the time).

Anonymous 0 Comments

The typical, helpful treatments are things like occupational therapy and speech therapy that empower kids to develop the skills they need but don’t pick up as intuitively as allistic kids. It might be the ability to pronounce certain words or support to learn how to use their body in ways that don’t cause injury. OT especially can support parents to understand their child’s sensory profile and offer alternative options to meet sensory needs that are more appropriate and healthy than whatever they naturally figure out, e.g. replacing self harming sensory behaviour with non harmful options that still meet the underlying need. An analogue for allistic treatments might be training on logical problem solving, which tends to come much more naturally to an autistic child.

As others have said, there’s a school of thought that treating autism is meant to eradicate its presentation. Unfortunately, it’s not possible (as far as we know) to actually alter whether or not someone is autistic – it’s a foundational difference in the way the body and brain perceive and process information, combined with other things, that creates the outward symptoms. For example, many autistic people are highly sensitive to certain sensory information like florescent lights, noise, the feel of clothing on their body, etc. You can force them to act like they’re OK but you can’t actually change the way they experience those senses. So ABA therapy and others like it are essentially an exercise in teaching children to hide their feelings and perform the role of not being autistic. This is largely seen as traumatic and harmful within the community, but is widespread and commonly suggested by medical professionals who aren’t connected with the autistic adult community.

The real value of diagnosis is understanding. Understanding that an autistic brain functions differently, with a guide on how to figure out what those differences are and how to account for and accommodate them. The more an autistic person’s needs are met, the more they will be able to cope with the demands of life and allistic society. If they know they need noise cancelling headphones to tolerate the noise of a shopping trip, they’re much less likely to have a public meltdown from sensory overload, as a small example.

There’s no “treatment” that will “cure” autism. But there are treatments that support healthy autistic development and maximise the ability to function long term.

Anonymous 0 Comments

My girlfriend got her diagnosis well into adulthood, and in her case the main benefits have been it gives other people (including me) better resources to understand her needs, and because with the diagnosis comes the opportunity to e.g. get disability accommodations at school or work or possibly go on government disability if you need to.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Autistic adult and future social worker here: it really depends! A lot of people are big fans of something called applied behavioral analysis (ABA) therapy (think Pavlov’s dogs), wherein an Autistic person (usually a child) is taught “good” behaviors and trained out of “bad” behaviors through positive and negative reinforcement and punishment. An example of a good behavior may be eye contact, whereas a bad behavior may be self-harm or (to use a less extreme example) visible stimming. A lot of Autistic people (myself included) aren’t big fans of ABA due to the subjective nature of good vs. bad behavior and the tendency for ABA practitioners to prioritize and reward stereotypically neurotypical (non-Autistic) behavior over Autistic behaviors.

Other therapies can include cognitive behavioral therapy (my favorite) which focuses on changing maladaptive (bad) cognitions (thought processes) and acceptance and commitment therapy, which uses acceptance and mindfulness to implement behavior change strategies. Autistic people may also undergo life skills training (I did this in a group setting) or other courses, and sometimes have accommodations in school/college/work.

Different things work for different people, so it’s hard to give you a concrete answer for “how is Autism treated?”. It usually involves treating the symptoms the Autistic person finds maladaptive (not helpful) when they can (through therapy/medication/accommodations etc.) and teaching acceptance and coping strategies when they can’t. We’re making great strides in the mental health field towards accepting and supporting Autistic people, but there’s still a long way to go. Thanks for the question! ❤️