Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects 1 in every 88 children in the United States. It is characterised by social deficits, communication problems, repetitive behaviours, and restricted interests. The cause of ASD is unknown, although there is evidence that genetics play a role. In this article we’ll discuss about Autism and the alternative treatments for Autism which are available now a days.
What Is an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?
Autism is a neurodevelopment disorder characterised by impaired social interaction, repetitive behaviors, and restricted interests.Dr. Michael Greger, M.D, Author of the book How Not To Die
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are characterized by difficulties in communication and social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, and activities.”
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neuro-developmental condition that affects communication skills, social interaction, and repetitive behaviours. It often begins during infancy and continues throughout childhood. The cause of autism is unknown; however, there are several factors that may contribute to the development of ASD. These include genetics, environmental influences, and brain abnormalities.
What causes autism?
Autism is caused by a combination of genetic factors and environmental influences. The exact cause of autism isn’t known. However, researchers believe that both genes and the environment play a role in causing autism.
Researchers have identified several genes associated with autism. These include:
- The gene for the protein called MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase) has been linked to an increased risk of autism. This gene helps produce folic acid, which is needed for cell growth and development. People who inherit two copies of this gene may be at higher risk of having children with autism.
- A mutation in the gene for the enzyme called methyl-CpG binding protein 2 (MECP2) can also increase the risk of developing autism. This gene plays a key role in brain development. Children with mutations in this gene are more likely to develop autism than those without these mutations.
There are many possible environmental influences on autism. Some of these include:
- Exposure to certain chemicals during pregnancy or early childhood
- Infections such as rubella or cytomegalovirus
- Certain medications taken during pregnancy or early childhood, including some antibiotics
What Are Some Common Symptoms of ASD?
Many children with ASD show delays in language development, social skills, and repetitive behaviors. They also tend to avoid eye contact and engage in self-stimulating activities such as rocking back and forth, spinning objects, flapping hands, or touching things repeatedly. Other common signs of ASD include difficulty making friends, trouble communicating, and unusual responses to sensory stimuli.
The most common symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are given below.
Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder
People with autism often experience symptoms that vary from person to person. The following is a list of the most common signs and symptoms of ASD.
Social Skills Problems
Many people with autism have difficulty interacting socially. They may not be able to understand what others mean when they talk about things like feelings, emotions, relationships, or social rules. They may also have trouble understanding how other people think and feel. This can make it difficult for them to communicate their needs and wants in ways that are appropriate for the situation.
Some children with autism have problems using words appropriately. For example, they might use inappropriate language (such as saying “I want” instead of “I need”) or repeat themselves over and over again. Other children with autism don’t seem to know how to behave around other people. They may act inappropriately by touching people without permission, making loud noises, or acting out in other ways.
Difficulty With Social Interaction
Children who have autism tend to have more difficulties than adults with social skills. Adults with autism usually do better at work and school than children with autism because they learn social skills through practice. However, many adults still struggle with social interactions.
The following are some examples of social interaction problems:
- Lack of eye contact
- Inability to read facial expressions
- Poor listening skills
- Trouble understanding jokes
- Problems with empathy
- Difficulty reading nonverbal cues
- Problems with body language
- Problems with humor
- Problems with sarcasm
- Problems with teasing
- Problems with anger management
- Problems with impulse control
- Problems with self-control
- Problems with anxiety
- Problems with mood swings
- Problems with attention span
- Problems with memory
- Problems with organization
- Problems with time management
- Problems getting along with peers
- Problems with peer acceptance
- Problems with friendships
- Problems with social skills
- Problems with schoolwork
- Problems with homework completion
- Problems with academic performance
- Problems with concentration
- Problems with decision making
- Problems with problem solving
- Problems with sleep patterns
- Problems with eating habits
- Problems with weight gain or loss
- Problems with exercise and physical activity
Some individuals with autism have seizures or epilepsy. Others experience anxiety or depression. Many people with autism have sensory issues, including sensitivity to noise, light, touch, taste, smell, and temperature.
Symptoms may also include unusual sensory responses, such as being overly sensitive to certain sounds or textures. Some people with ASD have intellectual disability. People with intellectual disability often have difficulty communicating their thoughts and feelings, but they can learn new skills through training and practice.
What Can Be Done About Autism?
The first step in the process of treating Autism to diagnose the issue.
An ASD diagnosis is based on symptoms observed during childhood. A parent or caregiver must report at least one symptom before a diagnosis can be made. The symptoms typically appear between ages 2 and 4 years old.
A diagnosis of ASD can be made based on an individual’s symptoms and history. A comprehensive evaluation by a qualified professional will help determine if the person has ASD or another type of developmental disability. This may include:
- Observation of the child in different settings, such as at home, school, or with other caregivers
- Interviewing parents about their child’s development and behavior
- Reviewing medical records to see how well the child is doing compared to his/her peers
- Tests that measure brain function (neuropsychological tests)
- Testing for genetic disorders that cause autism
In addition to being diagnosed with ASD, children with ASD often experience other health problems such as gastrointestinal disorders, sleep disturbances, seizures, and anxiety.
If you think your child might have ASD, it’s important to get him/her evaluated early so he/she can receive appropriate treatment. Early intervention helps children develop language skills, social skills, and problem-solving abilities. It also gives them the best chance of learning academic skills.
What Alternative Treatments Work Best For Children with ASD?
If your child has been diagnosed with ASD, there are several treatment options available. One option is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which focuses on teaching your child new ways of behaving through positive reinforcement. Another option is called Social Skills Training (SST). This involves teaching your child how to interact with others by using role playing and other techniques. A third option is called Sensory Integration Therapy (SIT) and teaches your child how to respond appropriately to different kinds of sensations.
These treatments can be used together or separately depending on the needs of your child.
Some alternative Treatment for Autism
In addition to these three main approaches, there are also some alternative treatments for autism. Some of these include music therapy, art therapy, and massage therapy.
1. Music Therapy
Music therapy is a type of psychotherapy that uses music as a therapeutic intervention. It helps people express themselves through music. This form of therapy is used to treat a variety of disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In Music therapy, a therapist uses music to help patients express their feelings and emotions. Music therapists use instruments such as drums, piano, guitar, violin, flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, cello, bass, and others to play or sing songs for autistic children. The goal of this type of therapy is to improve communication skills, reduce anxiety, increase self-esteem, and enhance social interaction.
Some studies have shown that music therapy helps autistic children develop better language skills and improves their ability to communicate. Though Music Therapy shows a lot of potential as an alternative treatment more research needs to be done before we know if it really does work.
2. Art Therapy
Art therapy is another form of psychotherapy that involves using creative activities to help people express themselves. Art therapists use various types of art materials like clay, paint, pencils, crayons, paper, and other items to create artwork. They then analyze the artwork and discuss what they see in it. This type of therapy has been found to help autistic children learn how to cope with stress, deal with anger, and understand relationships. It can also help them express their thoughts and feelings through drawing, painting, sculpting, and other forms of art. This form of therapy is very safe and effective in treating ASD. I recommend it as the most preferable form of alternative treatment for ASD.
3. Massage Therapy
A massage therapist works with clients by using touch to help them relax and relieve tension. They use different techniques to achieve this goal, such as Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, sports massage, trigger point therapy, and myofascial release. Massage therapy combined with other therapy is a good alternative treatment for Autism.
4. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an effective way to treat many mental health problems including depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, and phobias. CBT focuses on changing negative thinking patterns and behaviours by teaching people new ways of thinking about situations. For example, instead of focusing on the bad things that happen to you, you focus on the good things that happen to you. You may think about your past accomplishments rather than your failures. CBT teaches people to recognise when they are feeling anxious or depressed and take steps to change those feelings.
5. Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy, helps people who have experienced trauma such as sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional neglect, and domestic violence. EMDR uses eye movements to help patients process memories associated with the trauma. The therapist guides the patient’s eyes back and forth across images
Acupuncture and acupressure have been used as an alternative treatment to treat autism for many years. Acupressure can be used to reduce the anxiety. Holding PC6 and TE5 points can greatly reduce anxiety.
Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to treat pain and other ailments. It involves inserting very thin needles into certain points on the body to stimulate the flow of energy through those areas. This helps to reduce inflammation and promote healing. Acupuncturists use traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) techniques to diagnose and treat conditions. TCM uses herbal treatments, diet, exercise, massage, and other therapies to promote health. It also focuses on treating the whole person—body, mind, and spirit—rather than just one part of the body or disease. This is also an effective alternative treatment for autism.
Hypnotherapy has been shown to be an effective tool for helping individuals with ASD develop coping strategies, improve social skills and reduce anxiety.
Hypnosis is a state of mind where you are relaxed and focused on your goals. You may feel sleepy but you remain alert and able to follow instructions. In hypnosis, you will not remember what was said during the session.
Because of its effectiveness lot of people are considering it as an effective form of alternative treatment for autism.
9. Bach Flower Remedy
Another not so popular alternative treatment for autism is Bach Flower Remedy. Bach flower remedies are a series of homeopathic remedies that were created by Dr Edward Bach in the early 1900s to help people with emotional and mental health issues.
The original Bach flower remedy book was published in 1921, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that they became popular. The Bach flower remedies have been used for over 100 years to treat anxiety, depression, stress, insomnia, addiction, grief, anger, and more. They can be taken as a supplement or added to your daily routine.
How Do Bach Flower Remedies Work?
Homeopathy is based on the principle that like cures like. This means that if you take an herb or plant that has similar properties to something else, then it will help cure what that other thing does. For example, if you took a leaf from a tree that had similar properties to a certain drug, then it would work just as well as taking the actual drug.
This is why Bach flower remedies work so well – because they contain herbs that have similar effects to those found in drugs. Homeopaths believe that these plants have natural healing powers that we don’t fully understand yet.
There are hundreds of different Bach flower remedies available today. Each one contains a specific combination of flowers, leaves, roots, seeds, bark, and berries. These ingredients are chosen specifically to treat each individual person who takes them.
10. Nutritional Therapy
Nutritional Therapy is other form of alternative treatment of Autism. There are several nutritional therapies that can help improve symptoms associated with ASD. One of the most common treatments is the use of vitamin B6 supplements. This nutrient helps regulate neurotransmitters in the brain, which can help reduce anxiety and stress. This vitamin has been shown to improve language skills in children who have autism. Another natural remedy is fish oil. Fish oil contains omega 3 fatty acids, which have been found to reduce symptoms of autism.
Vitamin B6 and Autism
Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that helps the body make proteins. It also plays an important role in maintaining healthy nerves and muscles. In addition, it can be used as a treatment for depression. There are two forms of this vitamin – pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitB6) and pyridoxal phosphate (vitB6). Both forms are available over the counter at most pharmacies. However, you should not use more than 100 mcg per day of vitB6 because too much may cause nausea or vomiting.
Vitamin D3 and Autism
There are conflicting reports about whether vitamin D levels in children with autism are lower than in typical kids. One study found that children with autism had significantly lower levels of vitamin D compared to their typically developing peers. Another study found no difference between the two groups. Vitamin D has been shown to have positive effects on brain function and behavior in general. The jury is still out on whether vitamin D supplementation will improve symptoms of autism. But trying out this supplement may not do any harm. So, you could try this as a form of alternative treatment while still working with your traditional treatments.
Folic Acid and Autism
Some research suggests that folic acid supplements may reduce the risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This is based on a small number of studies showing that women who took folic acid during pregnancy were less likely to give birth to children later diagnosed with ASD. However, other studies have not supported this finding. More research is needed before we can say for sure if taking folic acid during pregnancy reduces the risk of giving birth to an autistic child.
Fish Oil and Autism
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that your body needs to function properly. They are found in foods like salmon, tuna, mackerel, flaxseed, walnuts, soybeans, and other nuts and seeds. The brain uses these fats to produce neurotransmitters, which affect moods and behavior. A study published in the Journal of Pediatrics showed that children with autism had lower levels of omega 3 fatty acids in their blood compared to typically developing children. Researchers believe that supplementing with omega 3 fatty acids could help improve social interactions and communication skills in children with autism.
Vitamin D and Autism
There is no good scientific evidence that vitamin D helps prevent or treat autism. Vitamin D is found naturally in foods like milk, cheese, eggs, liver, cod liver oil, and mushrooms. It is also made by your body when you get sunlight exposure. The amount of vitamin D in your blood depends on how much sun you’re getting and what kind of skin you have. People with darker skin need more sun exposure than those with lighter skin to produce enough vitamin D. Some experts believe that vitamin D deficiency may play a role in causing or worsening symptoms of autism. However, it’s unclear exactly why this would happen.
The Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex disorder with many symptoms. Many parents have tried conventional therapies but they haven’t worked. They’ve found an alternative solution that has helped their children thrive! Though there are several alternative and common treatment methods available but you may need to try several different methods before finding one that works best for your child. Not all the alternative treatment given above will be useful in a particular case but you need to try out a few to know which one works best for you.
Anupriya is an Alternative Educator, Holistic Healing Trainer, Trance Medium and now an Author who has mastered many different healing and teaching modalities. She has worked in La Wisdom Alternative Learning Center in Bangalore for 2 years. She has educated children and parents on varied topics like emotional awareness, casteism in india, team work, career choices and addiction awareness etc. She continues to intrigue the minds of young people with her logical and experimental approach. Having gone through her own painful spiritual journey, she also learnt every healing modality that she could get her hands on. She has been training people in – Meditations, Reiki Energy Healing, Emotional Freedom technique, different forms of Acupressure and Reflexology, Ayurvedic Colour Therapy, Sujok, Naturopathy, Bach Flower Remedies, Chakra Healing, Angel Healing and Pendulum Dowsing etc from past 5 years. She has also developed faster healing methods for trauma and abuse victims using various guided meditations, creative visualisations and breathwork. Her faster methods work best with working professionals who have little to no time for themselves and children who have no patience as she teaches very quick tips and tricks to recover from painful circumstances. She also offers longer ‘energy and consciousness’ courses for adults, teenagers and children who wish to awaken a deeper human and spiritual awareness within them.
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