I classify the known approaches for autism intervention into six broad categories. I have not undergone any of these therapies and thus could not comment on their effects. I am providing these resources solely to help parents make more informed decisions, not because I advocate curing autism.
Neurological: change brain operations via the environment & senses
Sensory Integration: We can use strategies to compensate for the child’s sensory dysfunctions, such as changing his environment, routines and how people interact with him. For example, we can avoid visual clutter, messy art activities and perfume.
Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Integration (MNRI) Method: Uses the integration of reflexes and sensory input to rewire the brain.
Irlen lenses: Used to treat some forms of dyslexia, these colored lenses also correct visual-perception problems in some autistics. Each individual uses a different color. A low cost substitute is to use uniformly colored transparencies to cover the reading material.
Auditory Integration Training: This helps to normalize hearing and sharpen listening skills
Tomatis Method: Simulates the main phases of the child’s listening and communication development. Sounds, music or voices are modified by the Electronic Listening Device to ensure the client’s brain will process it.
Samonas Sound Therapy: Stimulating the auditory system with very high fidelity natural sounds and beautiful music may improve neurological functioning.
Earobics: Multisensory reading intervention solution for raising academic achievement.
Rhythmic Entrainment Intervention: Uses complex rhythms to induce a state of wakefulness and reduce autistic syndromes
Aquatic Therapy / Hydrotherapy / Pool Therapy: Usually used to rehabilitate patients after injury or chronic illness, aquatic therapy provides a supportive environment for children with autism to orientate their bodies and experience the sense of touch.
Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR): May help some autistics relax and reduce negative emotions
Occupational Therapy: Occupational therapy helps enhance people’s ability (e.g. improving motor skills) or modify their environment to better support their participation in everyday life.
Yoga: Helps calm autistics and improve their coordination
Nei Yang Gong Qigong: Helps calm children with autism and improve self-control
DORE Programme: Using physical coordination exercises to treat Cerebella Developmental Delay (CDD) may benefit clumsy and learning disabled autistics.
Autism Movement Therapy: Combines movement and music to increase motor skills and cognitive skills
Brain Gym: Integrating the brain through whole body movement.
Weighted Vest: Provides proprioceptive input and deep pressure to help the child make sense of their environment.
Squeeze Machine: This has a comfortable surface which applies constant pressure controlled by the user. Temple Grandin uses it to calm herself down. [http://www.therafin.com]
Le Packing: Wrapping the autistic child tightly with damp, refrigerated sheets may calm them down.
Speech Therapy: Helps autistics with verbal pronunciation, communication rules, conversation skills and understanding concepts.
PROMPT Technique: Helps develop normalized and flexible oral motor control, cognitive skills and social interactions.
Phytobiophysics: Uses combination flower essences and tree essences to create balance in an individual – spiritual, mental, emotional and physical. Has remedies for special needs children.
Tongue Acupuncture: The ancient Chinese art of balancing the ‘Qi’ of the human body seems to have an effect on autistic children.
Craniosacral Therapy: Improving the flow of cerebrospinal fluid to the brain through massage may relieve autistic symptoms.
Rolfing: Helps people to align with the Earth’s gravitation field by balancing tensions within the soft tissue network (fascia) to restore body posture and movement.
Neurofeedback: This can help train the brain to improve focus and decrease anxiety in autistics.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS): Uses magnetic fields to stimulate specific areas of the brain. It has very promising results and may become the mainstream autism treatment of the near future.
Doman-Delacato Treatment (Patterning): A series of exercises simulating prenatal and postnatal movements of nonimpaired children designed to improve autistics’ neurological impairments.
Interactive Metronome: Used to improve motor planning and sequencing.
Electro-convulsive Therapy: May stop highly aggressive and self-injurious behaviors.
Autism Service Dog: Specially trained dogs help children with autism process sensory information, remain safe and provide social interaction opportunities.
Elephant Therapy: Clients interact with elephants, which provide therapeutic effects.
Aquarium Therapy: Aquariums can help calm autistic children down.
Dolphin Assisted Therapy: Clients swim with dolphins, which provide therapeutic effects. [Note: Some animal activists believe that close human contact with dolphins causes severe stress to the animals.]
Compassionate Therapy: Instructs how to gently enhance the fragile nervous system toward integration and balance; accepts moment-by-moment reality as the basis from which to move on in accord with client interests and motivation; and supports the social-emotional environment with guidance about nutrition, stressors, and interaction ploys.
Medical: alter the biological systems within the body
Mind-altering Drugs: These are often prescribed to treat autistic symptoms.
GFCF Diet: Many autistic children improved greatly with a casein and gluten free diet. Casein is found in milk and gluten in wheat, oat, rye, and barley. Avoid foods and drinks containing these items. This is a diet most biomedical doctors will recommend to parents starting treatment. Some children with autism also must avoid other common allergens like eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish and soy.
Body Ecology Diet: This diet free of gluten, casein, sugar and unhealthy fat focuses on establishing a healthy inner ecosystem within the intestines.
Caveman Diet (Paleolithic Diet): By eating what our ancestors have eaten before the age of agriculture, we ingest only what our bodies have evolved to digest. This is more restrictive than the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.
Feingold Diet: Eliminates a number of artificial colors and flavors, three petroleum-based preservatives and certain salicylates. Although generally used to treat ADHD, many parents claim that it helps people with autism.
Low Phenol Diet: An intolerance to phenol in food has been linked to attention problems, hyperactivity and autism.
Low Salicylate Diet: Autistics often have problems metabolizing foods or medicines with salicylates, such as aspirin.
Low Oxalate Diet: Many children on the spectrum tend to accumulate oxalates in their bodies, contributing to agitation, poor coordination, poor sleep, behavioral problems, etc.
Sara’s Diet (Lutein-free Diet): This diet excludes lutein, gluten and casein together with the consumption of specific health-giving nutrient-rich foods. Do also supplement molybdenum and vitamin A (e.g. via cod liver oil) and avoid carrots.
Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD): The SCD diet excludes all starches and complex sugars, helping to kill yeast and bacterial overgrowth. SCD yogurts and probiotics then repopulates the gut with “good bugs” that keep yeast and bad bacteria in check. This is much more restrictive than a GFCF diet.
Anti-yeast Treatment: Some experts believe that yeast infections (which may result from antibiotic treatment) make autism more severe. Syndromes include thrush (white patches in mouth). Consult a doctor for treatment. Avoid malt, vinegar, pickles, chocolate, peanuts, corn and chicken. [http://healing-arts.org/children/antifungal.htm]
Probiotics: Ingesting friendly microorganisms can help prevent bad bacteria and yeast from gaining a foothold in the gastrointestinal tract. These bad microorganisms often create toxins that can cause or worsen autistic syndromes.
Vancomycin: A toxic wide spectrum antibiotic, if taken orally, may treat severe bacterial infection in the gastrointestinal tract without being absorbed into the body.
Bumetanide: This diuretic drug improves symptoms of autism with almost no adverse side effects, perhaps by decreasing abnormally high chloride levels in neurons.
Parasitic worms: Having parasitic worms in the gut can reduce autoimmune disorders, which are responsible for a number of autistic syndromes.
Nambudripad Allergy Elimination Technique: Uses acupressure, allopathy, chiropractic methods, nutrition and kinesiology to identify specific allergens and desensitize patients to these.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT): Some people believe that increasing oxygen flow to the brain may help it repair damage to brain cells and reduce autistic syndromes.
Nutritional Therapies (Supplements): Some experts believe that vitamin and mineral deficiencies contribute to autism. Please consult a licensed medical professional before using these. Start with a small dose and increase it slowly to avoid possible side-effects. Avoid vitamins containing Aspartame (NutraSweet) as it may be harmful. (* per kilogram of body weight)
|Vitamin B6:||17mg/kg*/day; max: 1,000mg; requires magnesium|
|Vitamin B12:||1-5mg/day (methylcobalamin, avoid cyanocobalamin)|
|Vitamin C:||8,000 mg/day for adolescents and adults|
|Magnesium:||6.7mg/kg*/day; max: 400mg|
|Zinc:||1-3mg/kg/day (monomethionine, picolinate or citrate)|
|Dimethylglycine (DMG):||60-500mg; use folic acid to avoid hyperactivity|
|Folic Acid:||0.55 mg/kg*/day (0.55mg = 550mcg/ug)|
Vitamin B12 Injections: Autistics who are deficient in this vitamin may benefit.
BCAA: A rare form of autism can be treated using BCAA, a type of amino acids usually taken by bodybuilders.
Hot baths: According to some researchers, sitting autistic children in water of 39℃ (102℉) for half an hour improved their ability to communicate and reduced repetitive behavior.
Chelation: Autism may have been caused or triggered by heavy metals such as mercury. Chelation removes these metals.
Oxytocin Spray: This hormone helps induce trust and intimacy and may be able to help autistics with their social skills.
Homeopathy: Homeopathy works on the principle of “like cures like”- the diluted form of a substance that can cause symptoms in a healthy person can cure those same symptoms. The remedy is so highly diluted that it contains no measurable amounts of the original substance and thus is non-toxic. It is then infused into tiny sugar pills.
Stem Cell Treatment: Injecting stem cells into the autistic may help repair some neurological functions and reverse autism’s syndromes.
Behavioral: create good behavior, stop bad behavior
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA): This very popular scientific approach trains autistic children to learn new skills one small step at a time using reward and punishment. This is generally the only therapy universally accepted by mainstream autism professionals.
Applied Behavior Analysis – Verbal Behaviour (ABA-VB): Derived from ABA principles and the work of renowned psychologist B. F. Skinner, ABA-VB is a way of studying observable behavior through operant conditioning, identifying ways to modify behavior as well as tracking essential learning skills in early development. It works particularly well with children with minimal or no speech abilities.
Early Start Denver Model (ESDM): a comprehensive behavioral early intervention approach for children with autism ages 12 to 48 months that defines the skills to be taught at any given time and a set of teaching procedures used to deliver this content.
Pivotal Response Therapy (PRT): Derived from ABA principles, PRT targets pivotal areas of a child’s development rather than individual behaviors one at a time.
Positive Behavior Support (PBS): Derived from ABA, PBS seeks to understand what maintains an individual’s challenging behavior. By changing stimulus and reinforcement in the environment and teaching the child in their deficit skill set areas, the student’s behavior changes in ways that allow him/her to be included in the general education setting.
Social Stories: Such stories provide simple illustrations and text examples of how to behave and what the world is about. Topics include: “What is a Library?”, “I am Going to the Library”, “What is a Responsibility?” and “What are My Responsibilities?”
Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS): Autistic children learn in stages to express themselves using picture cards or sentence strips. [http://www.pecs.com]
- Exchange a card for a desired item
- Take initiative to find cards and make requests to the teacher
- Make specific requests with specific cards
- Use sentences to make requests in the form of “I want _____”
- Respond to the question “What do you want?”
- Comment about their environment
- Describe colors, shapes and sizes
Sign Language: It takes a lot of effort to coordinate our lungs, throat, tongue and lips to speak. Some propose that sign language can overcome many of these difficulties preventing autistic children from talking.
Skin Shock Therapy: Although highly controversial, using mild and harmless punishment can treat the most difficult behavioural problems of special needs children.
Educational: integrate education & therapy together
Curative Education / Waldorf Education: A spiritual and community-based approach which deepens our human connection.
Social Communication / Emotional Regulation / Transactional Support (SCERTS): An educational model that promotes child-initiated communication in everyday activities.
TEACCH: An evidence-based service, training and research program for individuals of all ages and skill levels with autism spectrum disorders.
Daily Life Therapy: This structured system educates the autistic child via the three fundamental pillars of vigorous physical exercise, emotional stability and intellectual stimulation.
Instinctive: develop the autistic’s latent instincts
Miller Method: Helps children form organized chunks of behavior & develop developmentally appropriate behavior.
Relationship Development Intervention (RDI): This program supplies useful tools for parents to teach important missing skills and impart motivation onto their child to interact.
Davis Autism Approach: A non-invasive and gentle 3 part programme consisting of Individuation (creating an awareness of self), Identity Development (exploring ‘life’s natural lessons’) and Social Integration (Relationship Concepts).
Desorgher Method: A holistic approach to bringing about emotional, spiritual, mental and physical well-being in people with autism. It grew out of the Professional Parenting model known as the “Magic of the Family”.
Floortime: Instead of changing the child’s behavior, why not join him on the floor? In this way, we can help him learn to connect his emotions and intentions with his behavior, words and ideas.
Intensive Interaction: Designed for people who have difficulty interacting, the therapist works on improving the quality of the interaction, encouraging the client to develop shared attention, turn-taking and understanding non-verbal language.
Mifne Method: An intensive program for the nuclear family focusing on the child’s potential abilities.
A.T.D.R.A.: harnesses the environment and day-to-day activities as instruments for building connections with autistic individuals and forging loving and empathetic relationships with them. This approach also factors in the dynamic nature of life and relationships — a critical challenge for autistic individuals who appear to be dependent on structure, repetition, and routines.
Music Therapy: The use of music and rhythm can help the autistic child get in touch with his communication skills.
Son-Rise: This program also advocates joining the child. Parents play key roles as teachers, therapists and directors of their own programs, which occur at home.
Introspective: use self-awareness to adapt to challenges
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): High functioning autistics, especially adults, have benefited from this mainstream therapy.
Reflective Network Therapy (RNT): A network formed by the therapist, teacher, parents and fellow classmates reflect together with the autistic child on what has happened in the child’s life. Therapy sessions are done in the classroom as part of the educational activities.
Drama Therapy: Theatre activities can teach emotion recognition, emotion expression, non-verbal behaviors and gestures, listening skills, eye contact, conversation skills, strategies to handle social situations and several other critical social skills.
Facilitated Communication: Autistic children learn to communicate by typing on a keyboard or pointing at letters, images or other symbols to represent messages. The facilitator may help with prompts or physical support to their hands. Do note that there is considerable controversy as to whether the facilitator is subconsciously influencing or creating the communication (a.k.a. the ouija board effect).