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Erin Sexton

Professor Strehle

ENG 1201-B53

4 August 2019

Therapies for Children with Autism

Did you know that on average one in sixty-eight kids are put on the spectrum and that

boys are five times more likely to be on the spectrum? (Chung 00:01:425 - 00:01:52). Or did you

know that there are many people who are on the autism spectrum who live on their own and live

a perfectly normal life? These are just a few of the interesting facts about autism and being on

the autism spectrum. In this paper, the reader(s) will be learning about the different types of

therapies and how each therapy works. There are many kinds of therapies out there, and each one

works differently, but knowing which one a person needs is very important.

Autism is one of the fastest growing, uncurable conditions. According to the CDC, “Early

intervention services help children from birth to 3 years old (36 months) learn important skills

(1). These services include therapy to help the child be able to talk, be able to walk, and be able

to interact with others. It is very important to talk to the child’s doctor if the thought of autism or

other developmental problems cross the mind of the child’s parent. Autism is something that

needs to be taken seriously because of how it fast and suddenly it can progress. It can pop up out

of the blue, and many people may just think that their child is grumpy or irritable, but when this

happens for long periods of time, it is always worth going to the doctor and getting an autism

screen done. It is better to be safe than sorry because in most cases kids show little signs until it

gets to the point of them showing full on signs of autism or of being on the autism spectrum.
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With the symptoms all being so different for each and every child, it is hard to find and

understand what therapy would be best for that child (AHRQ, 1). This is why it is so important to

be researching and understanding what each therapy does so that the parents can know what

therapy would be best for the kid. It is crazy how one condition can have so many variables, so

many different symptoms, and so many different treatments. These therapies that are in this

paper are most definitely important. It is always important to learn about something new and in

this case learning about these therapies may help the reader in their job or in their future. The

reader may not know someone who is on the spectrum now, but with the rate that this condition

is growing it is quite possible that they will come across someone in their life that is on the

autism spectrum.

This graph shows how being diagnosed with autism had increased since 2004. It shows

just how many kids in todays society are being diagnosed. It also helps to prove the point that

knowing about autism therapies is an important thing. The numbers are only going to keep
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growing, so why do we not all learn about this now before it gets to the point of there being no

time and/or chances to learn about all of the different kinds of therapies there are!

It is necessary for there to be so many therapies because of how vast and unique each

form of autism/being on the autism spectrum is. According to the AHRQ, it is important that

parents consider when choosing the best type of therapy of therapy program to enroll your child

in (1). It is important that you speak to doctors, social workers, school administrators, teachers,

and health insurance representatives. This means that asking around and looking for a second

opinion is helpful. It is important to not just want to go with the first therapy that comes up on a

Google search because that therapy may not be the best for that child or it may not be the best

therapy for the type of autism that the child may have. It is important to ask lots of questions and

get a good overall census of what therapy would work best for what was asked for. Therapies can

be a bit pricey but at the end of the day it is worth paying the price so that the child can be helped

and can live a close to normal life. Many times, it is free to get a screening and get checked out

for an autism disorder by a doctor (CDC, 1). It is always better to be safe than sorry in these

types of situations. And catching autism at the first showing is very important as well!

The next question that may be coming up in the readers head is, do these therapies work

or are they a fake way to get people to spend money? And the answer for that is that it depends

on the type of autism/being on the spectrum, the severity of it, the case and the child in specific,

and whether or not it was caught early on. In some cases, these therapies do wonders and work

perfectly. But in other cases, it takes time for results to be able to be seen and sometimes results

will not ever be seen. In a lot of cases it is not just a flip of the switch kind of thing. It takes time

and possibly many different therapies/therapists in order to find the correct fit for the child. It

will take lots of time and effort to see change in some cases, and that is perfectly normal. It also
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takes people who are willing to work with the kid outside of therapy. The therapist cannot do it

all and they need the help of the child’s family and loved ones. According to the AHRQ, there

are lots of different kind of research being done looking into treatments. But now the dilemma

seems to be figuring out whether something works or not and seeing what works the best for the

child. Researchers are looking into the results of many studies and are determining why some of

the therapies worked for some of the kids and why other did not work for some of the kids (2).

The key to each of these therapies is time. Without taking the time to see if the therapy works,

there is a possibility of hurting the child in the long run.

The first therapy that the essay will explain is Applied Behavioral Analysis, or ABA.

ABA is the main branch of lots of different therapies, Discrete Trial Training (DTT), Early

Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI), Pivotal Response Training (PRT), and Verbal Behavior

Intervention (VBI). ABA helps encourage the good behaviors and helps discourage the bad ones.

In most cases the child’s progress is tracked and measured. DTT is a style of therapy that is

basically trial and error to get the desired response from the child. It teaches the children basic

life skills in the simplest way possible so that they can the desired response that is needed. EIBI

is for younger kids. It does the same thing as DTT but has different aspects that help kids

younger than three. PRT is a type of therapy that helps increase a child’s drive to learn and

socialize with others. Positive behaviors will help spread into other behaviors. VBI is a type of

therapy where the focus is on teaching the verbal communication skills. Each and every part of

the ABA therapies help the children with something different and each part of the ABA therapies

help the children grow and learn (CDC, 1).

The goal of ABA therapies is to help children learn to communicate and learn basic

social skills. ABA therapies are important so that children know right from wrong and so that
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they know how to have basic social skills. These therapies help kids and adults of all ages,

though some are specifically for certain ages. The ABA types of therapies are the kinds used at

schools and used at a lot of the treatment clinics. ABA has been shown to be very successful for

younger kids (CDC, 1-2).

Another type of therapy that has seen to be very successful is occupational therapy.

Occupational therapy is a type of therapy where therapists use different strategies to help

maximize children’s independence. Occupational therapy helps with daily tasks. These tasks

include doing basic school tasks, playing with others, getting dressed, and using pencil, pens, and

utensils. Occupational therapy has an emphasis on fine motor skills such as hand-eye

coordination, and sensory integration (NAPA, 2). Occupational therapy helps emphasize doing

things on their own and helps them to learn independence. For example, adaptive behaviors are

helping to get rid of the unwanted behaviors or gross motor skills (walking, running, jumping,

skipping, throwing a ball, or using an assistive device) (Autism Canada, 1). Occupational therapy

can be used for people of all ages and for all kids no matter where the child is at on the autism

spectrum. It has been proven to be a very successful form of therapy.

Occupational therapy uses exercise to improve endurance, stamina, and the overall health

of a child. It also helps give the child visual and motor skills that are needed for reading and

writing. It helps to give these kids the skills to be social and make friends. Socialization and

exercise are two very important aspects of occupational therapy. Occupational therapy is

beneficial for improving independence and increasing the quality of life for people who are on

the autism spectrum. Occupational therapy not only helps the kids, but also helps the family. It

gives the family some skills on how to help them and teach their child certain aspects at home

(Autism Canada, 2).


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The next type of therapy that this essay will explain and talk about is SIT or Sensory

Integration Therapy. People with autism and autism spectrum disorder tend to have trouble

processing sensory. These people tend to get overloaded by sensory much faster than a person

who is not on the autism spectrum. They tend to have a hard time registering the senses and

making sense of sound, touch, taste, and sight. Their senses are either much stronger or much

weaker than ours which can lead to sensory overload or an over simulation of a sense(s). People

who have autism tend to have a sensitivity to sound, touch, or light. When these kids are

bothered by sound, touch, or light, it can lead to tantrums or not acting their age. Sensory

Integration Therapy (SIT), helps to slowly expose a child to certain sounds, sights, and situations

so that they can have the tools to deal with certain situations if and when they are exposed to

these certain things (NAPA, 2).

Sensory Integration Therapy is often combined with Occupational Therapy. Both Sensory

Integration Therapy and Occupational Therapy are often treated by the same type of therapists.

Occupational therapists often have advanced training in sensory integration therapy. This helps

to knock two birds out with one stone. Most of the therapists will help to do a treatment plan so

that other people can help enforce the plan made in therapy. Both the Sensory Integration

Therapy and the Occupational Therapy, help to improve how the kids process different sensory

reactions and how the kids can cope with environmental sensory information (NAPA, 2).

Parents, loved ones, and friends are also very important in helping to enforce and keep up with

the therapies at home, outside of therapy.

The next type of therapy that will be included in this essay is music therapy. Many people

may know from/through personal experience that music is good for a lot of things. It can be very

calming. According to My Life, My Choices: Autism Spectrum Disorder, Self Determination &
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Music Therapy, “Different music therapists create, design, and equip their music therapy rooms

in different ways (3). It is important to include the children’s personal preferences in songs and

other aspects to this therapy so that is fitted to them specially (My Life, My Choices: Autism

Spectrum Disorder, Self Determination & Music Therapy, 3). Music therapy helps to calm

nerves. Music therapy helps as a tool to help calm down kids who are on the autism spectrum.

Music also helps these kids to feel something else when they are listening to it. It works as a

calming method and as a way of communication. We have all heard the quote, ‘when words fail,

music speaks’ and his is exactly what helps the kids on the spectrum. It helps them to have a

voice when they sometimes cannot say anything else. Music is not only calming for the soul; it

helps to calm the brain down in a sensory overloaded situation.

According to a study done by Karin Mössler, “The study found that the therapeutic

relationship predicts generalized clinical changes of symptom severity in children with autism

spectrum disorder (2). This finding suggests that music helps with development and helps the

children to feel safe in their environment and/or home. Music helps calm the kids down. It is a

soothing thing for them to hear when they are sad, mad, or worked up. Music works wonders as

a form of therapy. And the crazy thing is that it is one of the easiest forms of therapy to use at

home or on the go (Mössler, 3).

Another common therapy that is used is Speech Therapy. Speech can sometimes be a

very difficult thing for kids who are on the autism spectrum to have and to use. A lot of times

these kids struggle to communicate. A very helpful tool is Speech Therapy and having a speech

therapist. A speech therapist will come, work with the child, and use and/or teach a variety of

tools and techniques to help the kid express themselves in other ways (NAPA, 2). The speech
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therapists also give tools to loved ones, parents, and friends in order to continue the therapy

when they are not at therapy.

Speech and language therapy are two of the most important kinds of therapy that can be

used for kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ASD. It gives them alternative ways to express

themselves other than throwing a tantrum of screaming. It gives them another way to show how

they are feeling. Though these therapies have not been studied enough to know if they actually

work, each and every kid is different so it is totally worth a shot to try it (AHRQ, 5-6). Speech is

an essential part of helping these people who are on the autism spectrum be able to live their own

lives and be able to live successfully in this world.

The final kind of therapy that this essay will cover is canine therapy, also known as a

service dog. For many people, it is obvious that dogs can calm people down on a normal day to

day basis and in a lot of cases, service dogs work for people who are on the autism spectrum.

According to Autism Canada, service dogs help to provide companionship and support for

children and adolescents with Autism and for children who are on the Autism spectrum (1).

Service dogs can provide protection and increased safety for the kids who are on the spectrum.

Service dogs also help to control the child by giving them a sense of responsibility and giving

them a companion that is always with them. Service dogs can help reduce stress levels not only

of the kid who is on the autism spectrum but also in the family because it is almost an instant

connection between the dog and the child. There is just an overall change in the way the child

acts and holds them self. It really helps these kids to have a companion that is with them at all

times (Autism Canada, 2).

There are many people that believe that medicine or other approaches, other than therapy

will solve everything. In some case it may make things better and help, but as an overall whole
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medicine and other techniques should only be used as a last resort. Through research, it has

become evident that people believe that medicine will work for kids who are on the autism

spectrum, but it all depends on the kid and where they are on the autism spectrum. Medicine

alone will not help to completely solve the problem. It is important to have a mixture of medicine

and therapies. It is also very important to consult the child’s doctor or specialist because they

know what will work best for the child. After researching, it became evident that in a lot of cases

different therapies mixed with different medicines do in fact help and make a difference on the

child. But at the end of the day, every child is different and what works for them may not always

work for another child. Every kid is different, and that is why each child needs to have a

treatment plan. It is important to find out what would work best in each child’s specific scenario.

It is okay to not know what would work best. That is exactly why there are specialists, doctors,

and therapists who diagnose and treat patients on the daily. It is okay to not know the next step!

Never self-diagnose and more importantly, never self-treat! That is what the professionals are

for!
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This picture shows that in some case, not just one type of therapy works. It is important

to have a mix of different therapies, behavioral programs, medications, and learning programs in

order to get the right kind of treatment. Being on the autism spectrum is not an easy thing to be

on and it is even harder to know what to do when a child is diagnosed. It takes a lot of time and

effort to go through and find out what works best for each kid but once the results start to show,

all of it is one-hundred percent worth it.

When a child is diagnosed, it takes time in order for them to find the right treatment plan

and in order for the plan to be put in place. It is not an instantaneous thing. It is also not a straight

forward thing. There will be lots of trial and error. Lots of stress and heartache at the beginning

of the process, but by the end the results will be something that was worth it all. There will be

many times where the parent may want to give up and not try anymore types of therapies, but in

these cases, remember that there will be a type of therapy that will work for that specific case.

Do not give up. Keep fighting to find the right type of therapy that works because at the end of

day these therapies can lead to omething more amazing than people could have ever thought to

be possible.

In conclusion, it is very important for people to know about all of the different kinds of

therapy, to know about how each therapy works, to know what each therapy treats and helps

with, and to know what type of therapy is being used and why. If everyone knows this

information, it will make everyone’s life easier. After reading this paper, lots of people probably

learned a lot of information about the therapies that are out there to help treat children who are

on the autism spectrum and how each therapy works. These therapies are important to know

because with just how crazy the numbers are for kids who are the autism spectrum, it needs to be

common knowledge for these therapies. Remember the statistic that on average one in sixty-eight
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kids are put on the spectrum and that boys are five times more likely to be on the spectrum?

(Chung 00:01:425 - 00:01:52). You never know what loved one could be put on the spectrum

next. Remember the crazy statistics because who knows, you or someone you know may become

a part of those crazy statistics before you know it!


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Works Cited

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. “Understanding Your Options.” Therapies for

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. U.S. Department of Health and Human

Services, 23 Sept. 2014, https://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/topics/autism-

update/consumer.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Estimated Autism Prevalence 2018”. Autism

Speaks, Autism Speaks, 26. April. 2018, https://www.autismspeaks.org/science-

news/cdc-increases-estimate-autisms-prevalence-15-percent-1-59-children. 1. July. 2019

Chung, Wendy. “Autism-What We Know (and What We Don’t Know Yet).” TED, Mar. 2014,

www.ted.com/talks/wendy_chung_autism_what_we_know_and_what_we_don_t_know_

yet. 30. June. 2019

Gadberry, Anita L., and Angela Harrison. “My Life, My Choices: Autism Spectrum Disorder,

Self-Determination & Music Therapy.” Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, vol. 25, Jan.

2016, pp. 24–25. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/08098131.2016.1179908. 29. June. 2019

Mössler, Karin, et al. “The Therapeutic Relationship as Predictor of Change in Music Therapy

with Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Journal of Autism &

Developmental Disorders, vol. 49, no. 7, July 2019, pp. 2795–2809. EBSCOhost,

doi:10.1007/s10803-017-3306-y. 29. June. 2019

Murphy, Lisa. “Common Therapies for Children with Autism.” NAPA, NAPA Center, 5 Apr.

2019, 1. July. 2019


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The CDC. “Treatment | Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) | NCBDDD | CDC.” Centers for

Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 Apr.

2018, www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/treatment.html. 28. June. 2019

“Therapies for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Effective Health Care Program, U.S.

Department of Health & Human Services, 23 Sept. 2014, effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/

topics/autism-update/consumer. 1. July. 2019

“Treatments / Interventions / Therapies.” Autism Canada, Autism Canada, 15 Apr. 2019,

autismcanada.org/living-with-autism/treatments/. 3. July. 2019