Applied Behavioral Analysis or ABA is a therapy based on behavioral and learning therapy.  A child is required to submit to almost full time treatment where they are rewarded, typically with food, for following the directions of the teacher.  The therapy typically starts with simple commands such as “sit down” and “point” and the commands are repeated until the child gets it right.  In order for food to be an adequate reward, food must be withheld from the child until they are sufficiently hungry.  This treatment becomes a 24/7 occurrence.  Although many parents claim that this therapy works, it in no way cures autism.  If anything, it only teaches the child to mask their behaviors and to assimilate to those around them.  It can become a very time consuming and costly therapy which does not have scientifically proven results.

Animal Therapy

Dolphin therapy:  Animal therapy, typically associated with dolphin therapy, is an interesting approach to treating autistics.  Although this would be a fun experience for our child, dolphins are not specifically helpful in intervention. However, there is evidence that involving animals in one’s life can greatly improve its quality.  Therefore, owning an animal such as a dog would most likely be a beneficial thing. Many autistics also report that they can communicate better with and feel more comfortable with animals.  It would be great if a child could be around a dog that could understand them in a way that others can’t.  However, having a dog may not always be the best thing; dogs can be loud and fearful to a child, and finding a  perfect fit for a child would be necessary.

Diet Changes

Gluten free diet:   Many autistic children have intestinal problems and therefore many parents turn to diet changes.  There are also many sources that claim that autistics may have food allergies resulting in symptoms such as digestive problems, sweating, hyperactivity, and sleeping difficulties.  This intervention is a reasonable change in lifestyle that could help the child in a major way.  This diet change is not only good for an autistic child, but it can help many other people who do not have autism.  It will still be a major effect on the child’s life as anything from bread to hot dogs can contain gluten, but it is more reasonable than many of the other options.  However, this gluten free diet is not something that is going to “cure” the child, but this would be a healthy choice overall for the child and has shown to improve the digestive problems sometimes associated with autism.

Fish oil supplements:  Fish oil and Omega-3s have been shown to have great health benefits.  These benefits can also be applied to autistics, and there have been some reports of fish supplements stabilizing symptoms of autism. Some research suggests that autistics have a deficiency in crucial fatty acids such as those contained in fish
oils. Increasing intake of fatty acids may help with concentration, mood and sleep.   However, they are still not a cure of autism and should be mainly considered in order to help overall health.

Environmental Restrictions

Oxygen therapy:  This is something that would interfere with a child’s daily life to a great extent because they would have to miss out on daily experiences due to this treatment. This treatment has not proven to be very effective and is rather harsh for the child.

Toxic free environment:   Although there have been reports of this type of therapy helping with the symptoms of autism, there is no scientific research to back this claim.  This intervention is extremely time consuming and completely engulfs the entire family life.  This intervention requires complete isolation in a toxic free environment with specially designed and made materials for the room.  It is not only costly and draining, but will most likely not work and may be accompanied by extreme stress.


SRIs (serotonin re-uptake inhibitors):  SRIs have been shown to  increase attention, decrease distractibility and hyperactivity, and increase social interaction. They can also be used to treat depression, anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive illness.  Therefore, many individuals believe they can help autistic symptoms.  However, we would recommend never use these on a  child whose brain is still developing. It is not known for sure what kind of side effects this type of medication can have on a developing brain.  It is also important to realize that this is again not a cure for autism and only influences behavior while there is continued use.  However, these medications may be used as a last resort if a child is clinically depressed and has low serotonin levels in the brain.





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