Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) - Treatment Options


Currently, there is no cure for ASD but there are methods to help alleviate symptoms, and improve communication skills. The treatment for ASD needs to be individualised, because it depends on the severity of the symptoms, and also the person's wishes. 




Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA)

Arguably the most widely used treatment for adult and children alike, ABA encompasses a series of techniques used to encourage and to enforce positive behaviour through a reward system. Multiple strategies are used to help children develop communication skills and reduce problematic behaviour, such as aggression or self-harm.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Although not the first option for ASD, CBT is used in children and adults to help them recognise emotions and thoughts. By doing so, they may be able to learn about the connections between their feelings and behaviours, and this may help identify the emotions that trigger negative behaviour. In ASD, it is particularly helpful for managing anxiety and coping in social situations.

Social Skills Training (SST)

As people with ASD often have trouble communicating with others, SST is a great way for them, especially children to develop social skills. People undergoing SST will learn basic social skills, which include understanding humour, reading emotional cues and how to carry on conversations.

Occupational Therapy (OT)

Occupational therapy (OT) focuses on teaching children and adults the fundamental skills needed in everyday life. For children, these may be fine motor skills and self-care skills. Adults may be taught on developing independent living skills, such as cooking, cleaning and even handling money.

Medications

So far, there are no medications specifically designed for ASD. However, medications may be prescribed for some symptoms or conditions associated with ASD.
  • Antipsychotics
    • The only approved medication thus far is risperidone, which may help with aggression, self-harm tendencies and behavioural problems in people with ASD.
  • Antidepressants
    • While they are not proven to help with autism symptoms, they may be useful for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression and anxiety, which can be associated with ASD.
  • Anticonvulsants
    • Some people with ASD also suffer from epilepsy or seizures, so these medications are prescribed to treat these specific symptoms.



In a nutshell, there are many treatments available for ASD. There are also alternative treatment options, but there are little or no conclusive evidence that they are effective, and some may even do more harm than good. Regardless of the treatment choices, it is always best to discuss it with a medical professional to find the right treatment.
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