First, I want to say that I don't consider myself an expert when it comes to various autism therapies. I am aware of some of them, and I have ideas for developing social skills. But, beyond that, I still have a lot of learning to do.
With that said, let's start with the basics. ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) is the oldest autism therapy out there. As a result, it is the only real therapy to have empirical evidence to back up its effectiveness. Actually, ABA is the only therapy that has been statisically proven to work. However, I feel this has more to do with the fact that only recently are studies been done on other therapy methods. So, let's not count them out.
Overall, I feel ABA can be very good, especially when given to a child at a young age. However, from seeing videos, I feel that some ABA practiconers don't get it and can be a bit harsh at times. I feel that sometimes ABA becomes a rigorous workout. Ideally, ABA is meant to be a rewards-only system, but from what I have witnessed some practiconers don't follow in this vain. So, when it comes to ABA, I recommened researching who is giving the therapy, and to also switch to another provider if you don't feel you are doing the right thing with a certain therapist. Even though ABA is supposed to be a science, different people bring different personalities to this therapy.
Moving on, Floortime, Son-Rise, Brain Gym, other therapies. Some of these other thearpies I think are great. Floortime and Son-Rise are about entering the child's world, and I think that is awesome. I think the ideal therapy might be a hybrid if different therapy methods. I can see a little bit of ABA, a little bit of Floortime, and a little bit of something else. I think it is good to try and expose a child with autism to different therapies and see what works best. Also, Brain Gym activities can help stimulate the right and left parts of the brains and get them working in conjunction with each other. See my blog entry on brain gym here. http://www.armankhodaei.com/adventures-in-autism/2011/3/31/brain-gym-for-autism.html
Improv, Drama, Dance, and various social groups with peers that are not on the spectrum. I think that aside from the regular autism therapies that it is always a good thing to expose someone with autism to as many different social activites as possible. I think that one problem for many people with autism is a sense of rigidity. In other words, we have a hard time adapting to new situations and being creative. This seems especially true for social situations. I think putting a child with autism into an improv group is an awesome idea. Also, a drama club might also help develop social skills. Overall, I just think it is a great idea to put them in groups where they get a chance to interact with peers who are not on the spectrum, especially if the group is an activity that is of interest to them. I also think Dance is great because it is a different kind of socializing, and it helps get people with autism more in-tuned with their mind. Here is a blog entry I wrote about dance. http://www.armankhodaei.com/adventures-in-autism/2011/4/24/can-dance-help-people-with-autism.html
Speech therapy and Social Skills Therapies. Overall, I think that if someone need speech therapy then it can be very helpful. To be honest, I think to a small extent, social skills therapy can be of help. But, as mentioned above, one of the biggest social skills is rigidity. If we are taught that this is the one and only way we must act in a social situation then chances are we will only apply the exact technique word-for-word in our social encounters. I guess this really depends on the instructor. But, many of the books and exercises, while helpful don't seem to do much in terms of originality and being spontaneous in social situations which is very important.
Diet--For this, I will say that with absolute certainty that removing milk (casein) from my diet had a tremendosu impact on me. And, as a result some of my autism-like tendencies greatly subsided. I know some parents claim that also removing gluten from their child's diet has had a very positive effect. Some people however feel that because of a lack of empirical evidence that simply put all this diet stuff is bogus. I say go ahead an be skepticial. But, I do know that milk has an impact on me. Overall, I think that as with many autism therapies, studies also need to be done on the effectiveness of gluten-free and casein-free diets.
Medication--There isn't a pill designed for autism. I have heard of thearpies of where metals are removed from the body kind of like a biomedical therapy. In some instances, some people on the autism spectrum do have an excess of metals. At this point, I am not certain of the true effectiveness of removing metals from one's body, but if a child tests for certain metals at very toxic levels, then well, I guess it can't hurt to have them removed. But, do this safely, and be sure that your child gets an iron supplement afterwards.
Moving on, there are also B-12 shots. Some parents have told me that without a doubt that these shots are the best thing to happen to their child. I believe them, but again, we need more studies to prove this.
Also, anxiety is very common in autism. I do suggest that if anxiety prevents someone from functioning, or if they have strong social anxiety then perhaps you really should consult with a doctor about anti-depressants and adjust accordingly. I do have social anxiety to an extent to this day, but I never took anti-depressants. Growing up, my mom was too worried about me getting addicted to certain medications. Is addiction a risk, I'm not sure, but I have seen just how much of an impact that anti-depressants can have for those of us with autism, and that impact is pretty profound.
In terms of other medications, I don't really know enough about.
With that said, I know there are like a million different thoughts and ideas out there about what works and what doesn't work. This Saturday, I am attending a conference and hopefully, I will have some new information that I can share with all of you in this regard.
I thank you for reading today's blog entry and wish everyone a most awesome day of awesomeness!