This is another post on autism awareness brought to you by ASANV. Together we can conquer autism.
Techniques to deal with the behavioral manifestations of autism are part of many treatment programs. Some programs focus on inappropriate or challenging behaviors, and may include different types of behavior techniques meant to determine the cause of behaviors and/or replace them. Other programs (such as ABA/discrete trial programs) may be based on learning new skills such as communication or object recognition, and are very intensive in a 1:1 child-to-caregiver setting. Progress is met through external stimuli which evokes the desired response in the child. Behavior programs may be carried out across home, school and work environments.
Interactive/Relationship Based Programs
Techniques are aimed at engaging the child and facilitating progression through four stages of psycho-social development. Communication, motor skills development and sensory integration are part of this “child-led” model. This program is designed to be intensive and in a 1:1 child-to-caregiver setting. Progress is met through the child’s internal desire to engage. Interactive programs may be carried out across home, school and work environments.
One of the main areas affected by autism is an individual’s ability to communicate, and therefore many treatment programs include methods to increase communication skills. Depending on an individual’s needs, speech therapy may focus on acquiring language skills or teaching sign language. Communication aids such as electronic communication devices or picture communication boards may be used to help the person communicate more effectively. The treatment for the verbal person with autism may include acquiring greater pragmatic language skills by increasing spontaneous communication and decreasing “scripted” language.
One of the main characteristics of autism is a lack of social ability or the understanding of social cues. Social skills programming may include such diverse techniques as helping individuals with autism learn to recognize facial expressions and emotions, communicate in
social situations or wait calmly in line at the grocery store. Social skills groups may focus on the impact of social behaviors on others.
Because autism is the result of a neurological impairment, neuron functioning in sensory processing is compromised. Sensory integration treatment (done by an occupational or physical therapist is aimed at decreasing the external symptoms that are related to the underlying neurological impairment (such as hand flapping, finger flipping, bouncing, running away). This is done by ameliorating the underlying defects in the neurology, such as tactile defensiveness and faulty vestibular (balance) systems. At the same time, adaptive, appropriate motor responses to sensory stimuli are taught.
Auditory Integration Training
Hearing (auditory processing) is another sense that is often impacted in people with autism. AIT is aimed to help individuals who are oversensitive of hypersensitive to sound. This therapy involves the individual listening to a variety of different sound frequencies, coordinated to the level of impairment. Auditory training is performed by an audiologist trained in a particular method of auditory training.
Visual processing is similar to auditory processing in that it can be faulty for people with autism. Some individuals with autism experience poor eye contact, difficulty attending visually, visual fixation, or visual overload. Behavioral optometrists work to train them “behavior” or the eye (vision) to attend to the appropriate stimuli and to track correctly, among other things. Treatments may include specialized colored or prism lenses, developmental lenses (to help with visual-motor acuity), or practicing vision exercises.