There is unfortunately no cure for Autism Spectrum Disorder, there are however several treatment options used to promote self awareness in those diagnosed with autism or related conditions, allowing them to participate fully in day-to-day activities while putting them on a path towards becoming productive members of society.
Typically, those diagnosed with ASD have trouble in areas of socialization and communication because their cognitive functioning is distinct from that of their peers. Some therapies like ABA (Applied Behavioural Analysis) can be delivered at home, or at school, and provide the foundations for more intensive versions like IBI (Intensive Behavioural Intervention) that tend to be more rigorous and conducted at specialized centres over a longer period of time. Most intervention models require both the attention of professionals such as psychologists or personal support workers, as well as parents, teachers, and peers to be fully effective.
ABA is the basis for many schools of ASD intervention, it works to reinforce positive behaviours and skills while stopping problematic ones by deciphering the underlying reasons for behaviours, and how they relate to the client’s environment – giving each behaviour context. ABA methods are proven to help individuals of all ages with varying conditions along the autistic spectrum. Conveniently for children, ABA methods are often used in schools as a part of special education services. Often those administering ABA will use tools to reinforce favourable behaviours such as rewarding participants with something tangible like a snack, or access to their favourite toy, or other types of reinforcement like a hug or high-five.
IBI however is not as easy to access publicly though funding is available, and is geared towards very small children (ages 5 and under). It essentially uses ABA principles in a condensed setting in the hopes of using the malleability of a child’s brain to improve the original autistic diagnoses, helping with their development and capacity to learn. If you’d like to learn about autism therapy options in Ontario, a cursory Google search will show you the myriad public and private options available in your city.
The key to both IBI and ABA is to ensure the treatment is always delivered by a qualified therapist or group of practitioners with experience in behavioural disorders, and IBI treatment is always catered to the individual needs of the child. Clinics such as The Therapy Spot for example will utilize occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists as a part of IBI depending on where the child needs focus. Autism will often be accompanied by articulation disorders, or trouble with motor skills, so those are also addressed.
IBI treatment can occur anywhere from 20-40 hours a week over a span of 2-3 years. For young children, this better prepares them to transition into traditional academic settings when they reach school age. If you’re worried that treatment would exhaust your child, children will often look forward to it as the plan put in place caters to their interests as well as their goals – establishing a motivating, interactive, and fun environment where they may work while playing. If they’re doing IBI in a group, they also have the opportunity to socialize with others like them. To maneuver the world with ASD takes consistent work, however the earlier a person begins treatment, the faster behavioural modification will achieve positive results.