Treatment for Biological & Medical Conditions Associated with Autism
Article from Autism Speaks Website (www.autismspeaks.org)
Speech-Language Therapy (SLT)
Speech-Language Therapy (SLT) encompasses a variety of techniques and addresses a range of challenges for children with autism. For instance, some individuals are unable to speak. Others seem to love to talk. They may have difficulty understanding information or they may struggle to express themselves.
SLT is designed to coordinate the mechanics of speech and the meaning and social value of language. An SLT program begins with an individual evaluation by a speech-language pathologist. The therapy may then be conducted one-on-one, in a small group or in a classroom setting.
The therapy may have different goals for different children. Depending on the verbal aptitude of the individual, the goal might be to master spoken language or it might be to learn signs or gestures to communicate. In each case, the aim is to help the individual learn useful and functional communication.
Speech-language therapy is provided by Speech-Language Pathologists who specialize in children with autism. Most intensive therapy programs address speech-language therapy as well.
Occupational Therapy (OT)
Occupational Therapy (OT) brings together cognitive, physical and motor skills. The aim of OT is to enable the individual to gain independence and participate more fully in life. For a child with autism, the focus may be on appropriate play, learning and basic life skills.
An occupational therapist will evaluate the child's development as well as the psychological, social and environmental factors that may be involved. The therapist will then prepare strategies and tactics for learning key tasks to practice at home, in school and other settings. Occupational therapy is usually delivered in a half hour to one hour session with the frequency determined by the needs of the child.
Goals of an OT program might include independent dressing, feeding, grooming and use
of the toilet and improved social, fine motor and visual perceptual skills. OT is provided by Certified Occupational Therapists.
Sensory Integration Therapy (SI)
Sensory Integration (SI) therapy is designed to identify disruptions in the way the individual's brain processes movement, touch, smell, sight and sound and help them process these senses in a more productive way. It is sometimes used alone, but is often part of an occupational therapy program. It is believed that SI does not teach higher-level skills, but enhances sensory processing abilities, allowing the child to be more available to acquire higher-level skills. Sensory Integration therapy might be used to help calm your child, reinforce a desired behavior or to help with transitions between activities.
Therapists begin with an individual evaluation to determine what your child's sensitivities
are. The therapist then plans an individualized program for the child matching sensory stimulation with physical movement to improve how the brain processes and organizes sensory information. The therapy often includes equipment such as swings, trampolines and slides.
Certified Occupational and Physical Therapists provide Sensory Integration Therapy.
Physical Therapy (PT)
Physical Therapy (PT) focuses on any problems with movement that cause functional limitations. Children with autism frequently have challenges with motor skills such as sitting, walking, running and jumping. PT can also address poor muscle tone, balance and coordination. A physical therapist will start by evaluating the abilities and developmental level of the child. Once they identify where the individual's challenges are, they design activities that target those areas. PT might include assisted movement, various forms of exercise and orthopedic equipment.
Physical therapy is usually delivered in a half hour to one-hour session by a Certified Physical Therapist, with the frequency determined by the needs of the child.