No cure exists for autism, and a definite cause for autism has yet to be found. Rather than seeking to cure an autistic child, autism treatments attempt to alter negative behavior and teach necessary vocal and social skills.
Behavior and the Autistic Child
Autistic children’s behavior varies widely from individual to individual. Some autistic children may be withdrawn and aloof, while others engage in self-injuring behavior such as head-banging or hand-biting. Still others may display aggression, attention deficits, or hyperactivity. Impairment in social skills is a symptom common to all autistic children, although the severity of this symptom varies widely.
Autism Treatments and Treatment Strategy
Each autistic child possesses a unique combination of symptoms and behavior problems. As a result, no single autism treatment strategy will treat every symptom. Instead, an effective treatment strategy will employ different types of autism treatments. Different autism treatments work for different children, and treat different symptoms and behaviors.
The goals of any autism treatment strategy are to improve behavior, quality of life, and communication skills while minimizing undesirable behavior. A treatment strategy also aims to improve the autistic child’s overall independence. Specific unwanted behaviors are targeted by the treatment strategy, such as reducing self-stimulation and self-injurious behavior.
The Need for an Effective Early Treatment Strategy
An early diagnosis and implementation of autism treatments may be essential for an autistic child’s development. Although as yet unproven, researchers are considering the theory that early autism treatments greatly improve the chances of treatment strategy success.
According to this theory, the younger the child, the more open the child’s brain and neural network is to treatment intervention. The still-developing neural pathways in the brain are more “flexible” in a young child, and may be more responsive to behavioral treatments. Whether the theory proves true or not, it seems logical that the earlier autism treatments begin, the more benefit and symptom-relief the autistic child (and his or her parents) will receive.
Investigating the Cause of Autism
Although a cause of autism has yet to be found, a number of theories are under investigation. The discovery of a cause of autism would revolutionize autism treatments.
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