Autism is a developmental disability that affects both children and adults. The symptoms of autism are usually diagnosed within the first three years of the child’s life. These symptoms may be more pronounced in some than others and will often affect both the social and communication abilities of the individual. When diagnosed with autism, the individual can benefit from many of the different treatment programs and educational programs available.
While there is no special drug to cure the symptoms, professionals, as well as parents, have found that some drugs that are often used for other disorders will help to alleviate some of the behavioral symptoms of autism.
For example, Serotonin re-uptake inhibitors have been used to help treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and anxiety. Through research it is found that there are elevated levels of serotonin in as many as one-third of those diagnosed with autism. Drugs such as Anafranil, Lenox, and Prozac may be able to reverse some of the symptoms of having high levels of serotonin, such as repetitive behaviors, irritability, and aggressive behavior. Some researchers found that autistic children may show increased eye contact and may become more responsive to others when taking these drugs.
Your child’s physician may recommend other drugs, such as Ritalin, to help treat your child’s symptoms. The main issue in treating the symptoms of autism with drugs is the side effects that may come along with certain medications. As with any medication being taken, you want to fully inform your child’s physician about any side effects you may notice. It should also be stated that because children with autism may have a higher sensitivity to drugs, the dosages should be adjusted accordingly.
Many parents of autistic children and professionals feel that adjusting the child’s diet and adding vitamins will help to treat the symptoms associated with autism. Research has proven that taking an increased amount of Vitamin C will help reduce the severity of symptoms, while others have shown that vitamin B and magnesium will help with the behavioral problems, improve their eye contact, and improve the autistic child’s ability to pay attention. Professionals feel that due to malabsorption problems in those with autism, nutritional deficiencies may have an effect on how severe the symptoms are.
Before starting your child on a vitamin program, your child’s physician should do an assessment of nutrition. This will help them to find out what your child is missing in vitamins and minerals to help to determine what they need and how it may help them.
Individuals that have been diagnosed with autism sometimes may have sensitivity to certain foods, as well. Some of these may also contribute to certain behaviors. There are times that when certain substances are taken from the child’s diet, it will alleviate some of these behaviors. One example of this is gluten. Researchers have found that if an autistic child has trouble breaking down the peptides of foods containing gluten and casein, found in diary products, wheat, oats, and rye, this may cause an upset of the biochemical and neurological processes of the brain. By removing these foods from the diet, it can reduce some of the autistic symptoms.
Due to the wide range of communication and behavioral symptoms that are associated with autism, there are a wide variety of behavioral treatments for individuals with autism. Many of these behavioral treatments for children with autism are based on the Applied Behavior Analysis. This theory focuses on rewarding good behavior.
The main thing to consider in choosing a behavioral treatment program for your autistic child is to understand their learning style. If your child is more visual, you may want to make sure the program is set up to assist your child in the way he or she learns best.
These are only a few of the treatments available for individuals diagnosed with autism. Because autism is unique in the sense that the symptoms vary according to the extent and severity, you and your child’s physician will need to find a treatment program that works best for them. There are a lot of programs available for your child however, one program may be wrong for one child and perfect for another. Before starting your child in any program, seek the advice from your physician. He or she can test and assess your child to find out which treatments may help to alleviate some of your child’s autism symptoms.