If your child has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), it is normal to be overwhelmed. This diagnosis can take time to understand and work through for you and your child. As you research supportive measures for your child, you may be wondering what type of therapy will help him or her the most. Getting your autistic child started with therapy is one of the best things you can do to support positive development. Today, there are many types of therapies that are available to help ASD, all of which work differently. Some popular, most effective types of therapies used for autistic children include speech therapy, occupational therapy, and behavioral therapy.
In this guide, we’ll explore the different types of therapy that can support autistic children. Read on to learn more about how one or more of these therapies can help make a huge difference for your child.
Why is Therapy Important for Autistic Children?
Soon after your child’s autism diagnosis, parents wonder what the next steps are. Research shows that early intervention is beneficial, as a child’s brain develops. Therapies for children with autism can greatly improve their quality of life, both at home and at school. Not only will your child learn valuable skills that help them function in the world, but therapy can also improve their self-confidence. Keep reading to learn more about three types of therapy used for autistic children.
As the name suggests, ASD is a spectrum disorder. This means that each person diagnosed with autism may have varying skills, of different abilities. While some therapies may be best for specific types of autism, children with any degree of autism can all benefit from therapeutic interventions. The goal of autism therapy is to help your child achieve meaningful milestones, increase their independence, manage their emotions, and communicate and connect with others and the world around them.
One type of therapy that can help some children with autism is known as speech therapy. Targeted speech therapy can help improve your child’s speaking and language skills, as well as improve their communication and interactions with others. In addition to improved speaking, speech therapy often helps children with their non-verbal skills. Non-verbal skills include things like taking turns speaking, making contact, and using gestures.
Speech therapists at The Therapy Place also use age-appropriate games to help children with autism learn to express themselves. Perhaps this involves using pictures, symbols, sign language, or other tools to learn.
As a parent, it is important to remember that Autism Spectrum Disorders present in many different ways. Each child with autism is unique. Some children that suffer from severe autism may benefit more from other types of targeted therapies. This is because many children with advanced autism suffer to speak.
If your child has high-functioning autism, they may benefit most from speech therapy. Speech therapy is often used in combination with other types of therapy as a comprehensive plan to help your child. If you’re interested in learning more about if speech therapy may help your child, contact our staff at The Therapy Place to set up a consultation today.
Occupational Therapy is a type of therapy used to help children enhance their social, physical, cognitive, and motor skills. While this type of therapy can benefit people with or without autism, Occupational Therapy programs for children with autism often have targeted approaches. These approaches include working on play skills and enhancing the child’s self-care. OT can help work on sensory integration and motor deficits that are associated with ASD.
The great thing about Occupational Therapy is that it can be tailored to the unique needs of each child. If your child needs help with daily activities of living or learning how to use everyday objects, this type of therapy can help! OT can include any activity that relates to playing, school, or work. For example, many children need help with daily tasks such as buttoning a shirt or holding a fork. Your child’s Occupational Therapist will evaluate their abilities and create a personalized plan to help them achieve their goals.
At The Therapy Place, our skilled occupational therapists thrive when your child succeeds. Using interactive activities and fun, engaging tasks, they work alongside your child to help them become more independent. Not only does this help your child learn to function, but it helps them improve their confidence in their abilities.
Occupational Therapy, like other forms of therapy, takes time. Your child will be scheduled with regular sessions for best results. Based on the therapist’s initial evaluation of your child, they will recommend how many sessions they feel are best for your child.
Behavioral Therapy/ABA Therapy
Another type of therapy for children with autism is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). This type of specialized therapy focuses on changing a child’s behaviors by understanding what happens before and after the behavior. The goal of this type of therapy is to develop a child’s social skills, improve their language, and enhance good behavior. To enhance a child’s behavior, positive reinforcement techniques are used, followed by meaningful rewards or consequences.
This “gold standard” approach is widely accepted amongst educators and healthcare professionals as a promising form of therapy for children with autism. Within Applied Behavior Analysis, there are two sub-types, known as Discrete Trial Training (DTT) and Pivotal Response Training (PRT).
The first type of Applied Behavior Analysis, DTT, uses step-by-step instructions to teach a child a desired behavior or response. Therapists focus on the cue that triggers the behavior, the response to the cue, and what happens after the response. The second type, known as PRT, involves using a natural setting to help children with autism improve a few pivotal skills, which pave the way for them to learn other skills.
In summary, there are several types of therapies available to help children with autism. Each approach has different goals, which is why it is important to have your child evaluated by a therapist that specializes in treating ASD. At The Therapy Place, our highly skilled therapists offer every child a full evaluation that assesses their unique strengths and shortcomings. Through a detailed evaluation, our therapists can help parents like you decide the best type(s) of therapy for your child.
We understand it can be confusing as a parent to make the best decision. With many types of therapies, making a plan can become overwhelming. That’s why we’re here to help! Whether your child will benefit from speech therapy, occupational therapy, ABA, or them all, we’ll help guide you in the right direction.
Reviewed by: Leah Gross OTR/L
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