Autism is a complex neuro-developmental disorder that affects communication, social interaction, and behavior.
While there is no cure for autism, researchers and clinicians continue to develop and refine treatment approaches to support individuals on the autism spectrum.
In recent years, there has been an increasing focus on evidence-based and individualized interventions that consider the unique strengths and challenges of each person with autism.
Let’s explore the latest research on autism treatment and what it tells us about new treatment approaches.
Behavioral therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on modifying behavior through positive reinforcement and other techniques.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a common form of behavioral therapy used to treat autism.
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that children who received intensive ABA therapy for two years made greater improvements in language and social behavior than those who received standard treatment.
Experts have found that behavioral treatments, like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can also help kids with autism.
Some studies have shown that a CBT program that is done one-on-one can help reduce the severity of symptoms for some kids with autism.
Medication is another approach that can be used to treat some of the symptoms associated with autism.
A team of researchers at Northwestern University has recently developed a new therapy for a subtype of autism called Phelan-McDermid syndrome.
The therapy is based on a protein found in the brain and has been shown to improve cognitive function. They plan to start with clinical trials involving patients with Phelan-McDermid syndrome and may eventually include patients with other types of autism.
Other medications being tested for schizophrenia may also have the potential for treating autism. While behavioral therapy is currently the primary treatment for individuals on the autism spectrum, researchers are interested in exploring how drugs targeting muscarinic receptors could help the brain respond better to therapy.
A study conducted at Tel Aviv University found that pressure chamber therapy improved social skills and the condition of the autistic brain. Researchers observed changes in the brain, including a decrease in inflammation and an increase in functionality.
Some drugs like oxytocin and metformin may help people with autism, but it’s unclear whether they directly target the biology behind the condition.
Psychiatrist Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele reviews available treatments and outlines some promising options.
Alternative therapies refer to non-traditional approaches to autism treatment that are not based on scientific evidence.
A research paper found that the most commonly used alternative treatments were sensory integration therapy, therapy with horses, and vitamin therapy or supplements. These treatments were used by 9.2%, 5.4%, and 4.7% of individuals with autism, respectively.
According to a study, almost 9 out of 10 parents of children with autism have tried unproven alternative treatments like acupuncture, fish oil, or special diets.
While some alternative treatments like yoga, mindfulness meditation, craniosacral manipulation, acupuncture/acupressure, and Reiki are considered low risk, their effectiveness is still not proven.
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, behavioral therapy, medication, and alternative therapies can all play a role in helping individuals with autism reach their full potential.
However, it’s important to work closely with a qualified healthcare provider to find the best treatment plan for each individual.
By staying informed about the latest research on ASD treatment, we can continue to improve the lives of those affected by this complex disorder.