Treating Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in America
It's no secret that autism spectrum disorders are more common today than they were 100 years ago. With nearly 2% (one in 59) children born having an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), an increase of over 120% since 2000, the demand for autism assessments and treatment options is high, and ever-growing. While the prevalence rates for autism were as low as 3-4 out of 1,000 children in the 1970's, recent research suggests these statistics underestimated the true prevalence rate when considering the new diagnostic criteria being used today. Disorders such as Asperger's (now part of the autism spectrum) were likely not factored into such statistics at the time. Regardless of the prevalence in years past, the likelihood of having a child with an ASD is far greater today than it was a few decades ago.
As bleak as this may sound, autism is not a death sentence for a child. In fact, many children with an ASD have heightened abilities or special talents. While autism affects everyone differently, it is oftentimes difficult for a child with ASD to adjust to modern society. The good news is that therapy really helps, and many are able to learn new skills through various therapeutic interventions. There are a variety of therapy options available to help your special child learn to adjust to the world while nurturing his/her gifts and special skills. Throughout the following paragraphs, we'll be covering some of the most popular methods available for treating ASD.
According to research, early intervention is key for helping young children with an ASD from birth to three years old with their development. To help meet the growing need for early intervention autism treatment services in America, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates that children 36 months old and below who are considered to be at risk for early developmental setbacks could be eligible for state-funded early intervention services. Evaluations to determine eligibility are also available through this system. While intervention at any age is beneficial, early intervention services for specific symptoms such as language development (which would require speech therapy services) can do a great deal of good for a person who is experiencing any developmental setbacks. Such services may be granted by the state before an actual ASD diagnosis is reached.
Autism treatment options
Since ASD affects everyone differently, with a unique set of abilities and challenges for each person on the autism spectrum, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment plan. There are, however, a variety of therapeutic interventions and treatment modalities that help with symptoms of autism, as well as specific skill building interventions that may be used in conjunction with a behavioral and/or communication oriented therapy. There is not a cure for autism as far as medication is concerned, however, there are a variety of mental and physical ailments that oftentimes accompany an ASD which may find relief from certain medications. Such ailments include:
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Gastrointestinal (GI) issues
For those who are considering whether or not to include medication into the treatment plan of someone suffering from an ASD, the ATN/AIR-P medication decision guide is available to help with this important decision-making process, courtesy of Autism Speaks. If the decision to include medication into an ASD treatment plan is made, the ATN/AIR-P also provides an autism and medication safe use guide.
Behavioral health treatment options and beyond
The American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as the National Research Council state that the most beneficial behavioral and communication treatment interventions for children with ASD are those that provide them with structure, organization skills, and direction. These treatment methods are most effective with family participation to help the entire unit adjust with the child. Such interventions include:
ABA (applied behavior analysis)
Floortime (a developmental, individual differences, relationship-based approach)
TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication-handicapped CHildren)
OT (occupational therapy)
PECS (the picture exchange communication system)
ESDM (early start Denver model)
PRT (pivotal response treatment)
RDI (relationship development intervention)
CAM (complimentary and alternative methods)
While there are a variety of treatment methods available for those with ASD, ABA therapy is oftentimes considered the most effective, all-inclusive, evidence-based treatment option for both children and adults on the autism spectrum. If you're interested in learning more about ABA therapy, or where to find such services, we'd be happy to help you. Big Sky Therapeutic Services specializes in ABA behavioral therapy, and we'd be happy to help you set up a comprehensive treatment plan for your child or loved one today.
Planning for your behavioral health intervention
Before entering into autism treatment, it's important to have the necessary assessments and analysis so that a customized plan for treatment can be made. A good first step is to give us a call to schedule your functional behavioral assessment (FBA) and functional analysis (FA). Once the FBA and FA are completed, a behavioral health intervention plan (BHIP) can be made. This plan uses information gained from the FBA and FA in order to appropriately address each and every symptom and challenge an individual with ASD is facing.
If you're interested in learning more about the autism treatment services and options provided by Big Sky Therapeutic Services, we'd be happy to set you up with one of our trained professionals to discuss your treatment options. You are welcome to fill out our contact form or give us a call at (406) 240 2045. We look forward to hearing from you and guiding you toward the right kind of help that you need.