What Is Autism and How Can One Learn To Deal With It?

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Autism or autism spectrum disease (ASD) is a developmental disability that causes serious social, behavioral, and communication problems. People with autism learn, communicate, and interact differently than normal people. The difficulty associated with autism may vary from person to person as some people with autism require a lot of help and others may need less.

This is how people with autism behave differently:

  • They find it hard to communicate and interact with people 
  • They have a hard time  understanding what other people think or feel
  • They get easily irritated by bright lights or loud noises
  • They get anxious about unfamiliar situations and events
  • They take longer to process information 
  • They usually do or think the same things again and again

Autism does not have any cure, the only treatment is support. Being autistic does not mean a person cannot live a good life.

The actual cause of autism is unknown. It can affect many people of the same family too. Autism is not caused by:

  • Bad parenting
  • Vaccines like the MMR vaccine
  • Diet
  • Or any infection

The Behavior of An Autistic Child:

These are the type of behavioral patterns seen in a patient with autism:

  • Unusual body language
  • Lack of interest
  • Delayed speech
  • Repetitive movements
  • Difficulty in understanding other people’s feeling 
  • Clumsiness
  • Obsessive about unusual objects 

Autism Therapies:

There are many therapies available for autism including behavioral autism therapies, social skill training, physical therapy, occupational therapy, sensory integration therapy, etc.

     1. Occupational therapy:

This therapy helps children to get better at everyday tasks, like buttoning a shirt or holding a spoon properly.

     2. Speech therapy:

This therapy helps children in speaking and interacting with others. It can include non-verbal skills like making eye contact, understanding gestures, and using a computer.

     3.Behavioral therapy for autism:

Behavioral therapy for autism tries to reinforce desired behaviors and lessen unwanted behaviors. Behavioral therapy is often based on applied behavior analysis (ABA)

Types of behavioral therapy for autism:

  • Verbal behavior therapy:

This type of teaching is for non-vocal children to teach them how to communicate. Children try to learn the functional use of words to get the desired response. It helps children to learn language and gestures to vocalize their needs and requests. For instance, in a typical session, a therapist will present certain stimuli such as toys or food and will try to attract a child’s interest.

     1. Cognitive-behavioral therapy:

It is specific for children with mild disease. It aims to evaluate the triggers of unusual behavior so that a child can recognize those moments himself. Children with this type of autism are advised to learn habitual behavior. A therapist helps the child understand his/her problem by splitting it into smaller parts so that it may be easier for a patient to connect these parts. When a patient recognizes these parts, they can easily evaluate the problem and deal with it. The benefits of Cognitive behavioral therapy include:

  • Reduce anxiety in patients
  • Help patients control stressful conditions
  • Help people to change maladaptive beliefs 

     1. Developmental and individual differences in relationship therapy:

It is also called floor time. In this therapy, the therapist tries to engage the child with multiple activities and help children to learn a new skill. 

     2. Relationship development intervention:

It is a family-centered approach that focuses on social and emotional objectives to establish relationships. It is commonly used by parents who are trained by RDI. 

     3. Applied behavior analysis:

This therapy is the most acceptable therapy for autism. It is a highly organized, scientific approach that not only teaches but tries to develop social, communication, and academic skills. It involves a therapist breaking down skills into several parts and through reinforcement, repetition, and incitement help a child to learn them. It is recommended for severe disease. 

Types of applied behavioral analysis

It includes:

     1. Positive behavior and support:

The main aim of positive behavior support is to figure out why a child has a specific behavior-related problem. Maximum effort is put into working on the environment and teaching skills to make certain changes that help to bring positive behavior in a child.    

     2. Pivotal response training:

The goal of this training is to improve some pivotal skills like motivation and taking the lead to communicate.

     3. Early intensive behavioral intervention:

It provides individualized behavioral injunction to very young children.  The only disadvantage is that it requires a very long-time commitment and dedication.

     4. Discrete trial teaching:

It allows children to get familiar with new skills in a controlled step by step way.

Controversy about ABA therapy:

ABA therapy has received some reproval from parents, as they think the practitioner applies certain policies that can be considered callous and disrespectful. Another criticism is its tendency to be repetitive which may be wearisome to the child. Another criticism was that practitioners focus too much on abolishing undesirable behavior. But now many practitioners have acknowledged the faults and have adjusted to make it more flexible. 

How does ABA therapy work?

The therapist may use the ABC approach during the therapy session. ABC stands for antecedent, behavior, consequence. This ABC method is used before starting the therapy to check the behavior of a child before treatment.  

Benefits of long-term behavioral therapy:

People are often confused over which type of behavioral therapy to choose for autistic children. Many parents admit their children to schools early. Children who receive ongoing therapy can outgrow the diagnosis. There is no exact way to determine the therapy for children apart from making a rational plan, being flexible in observing the program, and proper planning. The advantage of behavioral therapy is it is safe and effective. 

Conclusion:

As autism is an untreatable condition. The only therapy is support to control relevant symptoms. This includes several different therapies like occupational therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, verbal therapy, and applied behavioral therapy, etc. Behavioral therapy includes those that treat mental health disorders. This therapy aims to identify and remove unhealthy behavior. They are both effective and safe. The most accepted and successful behavioral therapy is applied behavioral analysis. ABA lets an individual play, communicate, and develop social skills while cognitive therapy helps to reduce anxiety, stress, or ADHD. It helps the child eliminate negative emotions.

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