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Can Autism be treated?
There is no known uniform method of treating autism due to the fact that autism affects individuals in different ways and behaviours from one person to another display differently. However, there is a set of developmental practices and medications that may help some autistic individuals grow out of their condition in time or at least allows the patient to live with their condition in the least impacting way possible, most essentially through a joint effort, patience and dedication from both the treating physicians and the autistic patient’s family.
What treatment types are there related to dealing with Autism?
Treatment strategies to Autism can fall within either one of two methods: Interventions or Medications. Interventions may include developmental and assessment-based practices such as:
  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) In ABA, an instructor at first tries to learn about the particular behaviours of a person with ASD. They will also want to know about the effects of their environment on this behaviour, and how the person learns. ABA aims to increase desirable behaviours and reduce harmful or isolating ones by using positive reinforcement. ABA can help improve communication, memory, focus, and academic performance. By analyzing current behaviours and teaching new actions step-by-step, an instructor can provide both a person with ASD and the people around them with tools for support.
  • Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) This type of behavioural therapy occurs during play and helps children between the ages of 1 and 4 years old. A psychologist, behavioural specialist, or occupational therapist uses joint activities and play to help a child with autism build positive relationships with a sense of fun. Parents can then continue the therapy at home.
  • Floortime This involves parents joining children in the play area and building relationships. ABA therapies might also use floortime to support treatment and vice versa. Parents let the children lead the game, allowing the child's strengths to develop.
  • Occupational therapy (OT) This helps a person with autism develop the skills for everyday living and learn independence.
  • Pivotal response treatment (PRT) This therapy aims to support motivation and the ability to respond to motivational cues in children with ASD. It is a play-based therapy that focuses on natural reinforcement.
  • Relationship development intervention (RDI) This treatment revolves around the importance of dynamic thinking, or the ability to adapt thoughts and process situations flexibly, to help improve quality of life in people with autism.
  • Speech therapy This helps to address the challenges in communication that people with autism might experience.
  • TEACCH This program helps to integrate the needs of children with autism into a classroom environment, with an emphasis on visual learning and support for the attention and communication difficulties that might arise.
  • Verbal behaviour therapy (VBT) This helps a child with ASD connect language and meaning. Practitioners of VBT focus not on words, but the reasons for using them.

    Medications, the second type of potential treatment, involves a doctor prescribing medicine for a child or adult with ASD in order to address seizures, depression, or disturbed sleep. It is important to note that medications may or may not be right for an individual with autism and should be treated and evaluated on a case by case basis.
As an adult, is it likely that I have undiagnosed autism? I demonstrate a lot of the symptoms.
Yes, sometimes people who have mild symptoms of autism are not diagnosed until adulthood. Symptoms of autism can mimic symptoms of other disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder, causing confusion regarding an exact diagnosis. Occasionally, doctors will diagnose an adult with autism after they have a child who is diagnosed with autism and the adult notices symptoms in themselves.
How early can autism be identified? What should parents do if they are concerned their young child may have autism?
Some of the signs of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may be noticed before the age of 1, although a reliable diagnosis by an autism specialist can be made in children as young as 18 months of age. Unfortunately, many children end up waiting until after their 4th birthday to be diagnosed with ASD. Delays in seeking an initial assessment and limited access to specialists are just a couple of factors that help to explain this delay. Children who have less severe ASD, or are from minority backgrounds, tend to be diagnosed later than those with severe symptoms. Researchers are developing ways of being able to diagnose autism at even younger ages, such as using eye tracking technologies. The diagnosis of autism is typically based on a clinical examination, which is often supported with other information and tests. There is no single scan or blood test that can independently diagnose autism.

Our advice to parents is to trust their gut instinct when they are worried about their child and to seek the advice of their primary care pediatrician. This general assessment may then lead to a referral to a specialist who will perform a more comprehensive evaluation. Parents should also feel empowered to ask for a specialist opinion if they do not feel adequately reassured by a primary care evaluation.
Can children “grow out” of autism?
A small minority of children show considerable improvement in their ASD symptoms following diagnosis. While ASD has historically been considered a life-long condition, recent research has shown that the outcomes associated with an ASD diagnosis can vary considerably. Some people who were diagnosed with ASD in their youth may improve dramatically and show little difference to people who have never had the diagnosis.

Whether these individuals “grew out” of autism, or simply responded exceptionally well to the therapeutic interventions, remains up for debate. One should also question if the initial diagnosis of ASD was accurate in these cases. At the moment it is difficult to identify which children will “grow out” of autism, although those who have less severe symptoms and those who obtain early access to the appropriate therapies appear to have better outcomes.
There is so much information about therapies, treatments and diets for children with autism — how do I know what’s right for my child?
Parents naturally want the best for their child, and many will try different treatments, diets and therapies to help their loved one. It is difficult to cover all of the numerous therapies but here are the key points:
  • Medical and psychiatric conditions that co-exist with ASD should be identified and treated by a suitably trained physician. These can include immune problems, digestive problems and ADHD.
  • Natural therapies or treatments are often advertised as being safe and effective. Unfortunately, most of these treatments do not have high quality scientific evidence that supports either claim. Some parents have described improvements in their child by using specialized diets. The most important point here is to make sure the child receives enough calories and nutrients regardless of the dietary change.
  • Parents should be very cautious of treatments that are advertised as being able to “cure” autism; these claims are often uncertain.

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What is Autism

Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder, is a known brain development condition that manifests itself as difficulty in communicating or socializing with others and can affect an individual and their family throughout their life.