Autism Treatment for Children

There is still no cure for autism, PDD and ASD. However, the earlier the symptoms of autism are spotted, the better for the child, because then treatment options and available aids can be started earlier. Therefore, there are greater chances for your child to have substantial improvement in areas that are affected by the disorder.

A form of plan for treatment of a child with autism should start with a proper diagnosis. Proper diagnosis involves screening and comprehensive diagnostic evaluation.

Screening

Your child’s routine check ups should involve this. Proper screening instruments are now available. Among them are the Checklist of Autism in Toddlers (CHAT),9 the modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT),10 the Screening Tool for Autism in Two-Year-Olds (STAT),11 and the Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ)12 (for children 4 years of age and older). These instruments are devised to target behavioral impairments in children without significant language delay.

Comprehensive diagnostic evaluation

The second stage of evaluation should be more comprehensive since ASD and PDD are complex disorders. The evaluation should be done by a multidisciplinary team that includes a psychologist, a neurologist, a psychiatrist, a speech therapist, or other professionals who diagnose children with ASD.

Aids and Other Treatments Options

Research on available special education programs for your child. Learn special education and related services offered by your state. There are federally mandated programs such as Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which assures free and appropriate public education for your child. These programs are paid for by the school district and includes necessary services such as speech therapist, occupational therapist, school psychologist, social worker, school nurse, or aide.

Be very involved in forming your child’s IEP or individualized education program. Coordinate with teachers and other individuals who are knowledgeable in these cases. As parents, you would naturally know what would be the best and most appropriate program for your child. Annual meetings with teachers should be scheduled to monitor the child’s progress and make necessary alterations in the program.

Children afflicted with autism or any related disorder qualifies for an early intervention program which is available in every state. These services are provided by qualified workers and are usually done in the child’s home. The services provided are written into an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) that is reviewed at least once every 6 months.

The plan describes the services that will be provided to not only to the child, but to parents and siblings to help them in the daily activities and to help them adjust to having a family member with autism/ASD/PDD. In elementary, the program should be continuously revised to better focus on whichever area of your child’s development is delayed.

The programs should also be more geared towards developing social skills. In high school, the program should address practical matters such as work, community living, recreational activities, work experience, use of public transport. At an age where most of your child’s peers are dating or thinking about social activities and careers, your child would be more aware that he/she is different, thus becoming more emotionally and socially sensitive. Thus, you and your child’s program should also be geared towards addressing these concerns.

Dietary Interventions and Medications

Dietary intervention is based on the principle that food allergies cause symptoms of autism and that an inadequacy in a specific vitamin or mineral may cause some autistic symptoms. Parents who decide to put their child in a specific diet should make sure that their child’s nutritional status is carefully measured.

Some parents found a gluten-free, casein-free diet helpful. Gluten is a casein-like substance found in seeds of various cereal plants, while casein is the principal protein in milk. It is particularly difficult to follow a diet based on this due to the abundance of gluten and milk in most foods.

Medications are primarily used to alleviate symptoms of autism such as:

  • Anxiety and depression – Prozac approved by the FDA for both OCD and depression in children age 7 and older.
  • Behavioral Problems – Antipsychotic medications have been used to treat severe behavioral problems.
  • Seizures – Anticonvulsants such carbamazepine, lamotrigine, topiramate and valproic acid are used to treat seizures.
  • Inattention and hyperactivity – Stimulant medications such as methylphenidate have been found effective in treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorders as well as autism.