Although the general population is better informed about autism than it once was, there are still certain incorrect assumptions that are made about autistic people. Those who have never dealt closely with someone with autism often assume that it is a hopelessly debilitating mental disorder. But in reality, autism is manageable. The success of treatment depends on a number of factors, but in most cases a significant amount of improvement is possible.
For best results, autism management should begin as early in life as possible. Most cases are diagnosable by age three, and many can be detected much sooner. The earlier treatment begins, the better the chances of improving the individual’s functioning and quality of life.
There is no magic pill to cure autism, or even to subdue its symptoms. But there are several treatment options that can be used. These include:
* Special education – Although efforts are made to keep most autistic students in contact with their neurotypical peers, special education is often needed to help them better develop basic skills. Language and communication skills are often hard hit by autism, so extra help is frequently needed in these areas. Autistic children also need help with their social skills, which is unnecessary for most kids.
* Medication – Children with autism are particularly prone to emotional and behavioral problems. Some of these, such as anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, can be effectively treated with medication. Certain health problems, including epilepsy, are also frequently associated with autism, and administering medication for these can prove beneficial.
* Special diets – Many autism experts advocate changes in diet to help manage the symptoms of autism. One of the most promising diets for the autistic is the gluten-free diet. This requires the avoidance of most grains and casein. Certain vitamins are also touted as being helpful in the fight against autism, including vitamins A, C, B6, B12 and folic acid.
* Specialized therapies – People with autism often have an increased sensitivity to touch or sound. This is increasingly being dealt with through sensory integration therapy. Art and music therapy are also gaining popularity among those working with the autistic.
These treatments are often used in combination with one another to address all of the individual needs of the autistic person. There is no universal right or wrong course of action, as every case of autism is different. Some mildly autistic persons can live relatively normal lives with little intervention, while others require assistance with simple day-to-day tasks, and still others are somewhere in between these extremes. The best treatment plan is based on each individual’s unique needs.
Autism management means different things to different people, but its goal is always the same: to improve the individual’s ability to function normally. More autistic people than ever before are achieving some degree of independence, and some are able to take care of all of their own needs. Finding the right combination of treatments can make a world of difference in an autistic person’s life.