TREATMENT OPTIONS

There is no medical cure for autism at present.

Intensive Behavioural Treatment using the Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) approach is the Golden Standard for Treatment.

GOLD STANDARD TREATMENT FOR AUTISM

Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) is the only teaching approach for autism supported by over 1000 journal articles based on controlled studies, post-treatment follow up data and peer-reviewed studies.

More than 40 states in the USA provide either state or insurance funding for ABA treatment.

Almost 50% of children with autism who receive good quality ABA at a young age will be able to catch up to their typically developing peers. The other 50% are able to show improvement in all areas as well such as reduction of challenging behaviours, increase of functional skills, communication, independence, etc. but at a more gradual pace.

Learn More About ABA

ALTERNATIVE AND ECLECTIC TREATMENTS

According to the AMS-MOH Clinical Practice Guidelines for Autism Spectrum Disorder published by the Ministry of Health Singapore (2010), there are alternative treatments that are:

NOT recommended due to insufficient, inconclusive or conflicting evidence

NOT recommended due to potential harm and detrimental effects to the child

Alternative treatments that are not recommended due to insufficient, inconclusive or conflicting evidence
ALTERNATIVE TREATMENT
RATIONALE/ MECHANISM
POTENTIAL ADVERSE EFFECTS
Sound therapies (SAMONAS Sound Therapy and the Listening Programme)Improve abnormal sound sensitivityInsufficient evidence
Music TherapyMusical elements to increase communication, attention, turn taking & social imitationInsufficient evidence
Massage and other sensory-based interventionsImprove a range of motor and sensory functionsInsufficient evidence
Ingestible: Omega-3 Fatty AcidsCorrect deficienciesInsufficient evidence
Ingestible: Amino AcidsCorrect deficienciesInsufficient evidence
Gluten-free/ Cassein-free dietLeaky Gut syndrome; Insufficient intestinal enzyme activityDietary restrictions may increase rigidity in feeding; Nutritial deficiencies; Irritability, aggression & inattentiveness
Expressive PsychotherapyArt elements to develop cognition, language, motor skills, self-expression and self-esteem, social and life skillsInsufficient evidence
Behavioural OptometryCorrecting eye movement disorders – Filling gaps in unusual visual behaviourInsufficient evidence
Animal-assisted therapyDifferent activities have different aims: Improve language & social skills; Teach responsibility & commitment; Increase attachmentHarm to child (Accidents, bites, scratches) & Harm to animal (Accidental agression)
Alternative treatments that are not recommended due to potential harm and detrimental effects to the child
ALTERNATIVE TREATMENT
RATIONALE/ MECHANISM
POTENTIAL ADVERSE EFFECTS
Weighted VestsReduce inattentiveness & stereotypic behaviour due to physical and sensory needsAffect growth; Musculoskeletal development
Secretin TherapyLeaky gut syndrome; Secretine reduces behavioural characteristics of autismDiarrhoea; Vomiting; Constipation; Irritability
Patterning with MaskingEnhances oxygen uptake into blood stream; wearing mask to rebreath CO2 that was exhaled in last breath, opening up arteries and improving blood supplyRisk of brain damage; Physical harm
Intravenous Immunoglobulin TherapyCorrecting autoimmune problems causing autism symptoms; via intravenous injectionsSuppressing immune system; Mild eczema; Nausea and vomiting; Chills and fever; Hypo/ Hypertension; Rashes; Headache; Pain; Fear
Hyperbaric Oxygen TherapyReduce inflammation of brain; Improve blood supplyEar barotrauma; Pneumothorax; Oxygen-induced convulsions; Fire & explosions
Holding Therapy Autism is a result of parent’s failure to bond with child. Holding child tightly in a way that ensures eye contact; deliberately provoking distress until child needs and accepts comfortProvoking distress; Rage; Force potentially evokes fear, confusion, anger, betrayal; Violation of child’s individuality; Traumatised; Harm to psychological health
Facilitated CommunicationCommunicating through his/ her hand to the hand of the facilitator which then is guided to a letter, word, or picture on a keyboardPossibly promoting independent communicators into passive communicators; Forced communication; Potential physical force
Craniosacral TherapyGentle manipulation of skull, spine & soft tissue effect behavioural changeNausea & vomitting; Confusion; Neurological concerns
Chelation TherapyDecrease toxic heavy metal (Childhood exposure to neurotoxins (Hg, Pb) believed to cause Autism)Potential harm including death (hypocalcaemia); Hepatotoxity & Nephrotoxity; Stevens-Johnson syndrome
Ingestible: Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Digestive enzymes, Folate Vitamin B6/Magnesium Vitamin B12 Zinc Antibiotics/ Anti-Yeast MedicationCorrect deficienciesAdverse effects especially in high doses; overdose; Diarrhoea (Nystatin); Hepatotoxity
Auditory Integration TherapyProvide stimulation to hearing mechanism, thereby, providing ‘normal’ hearing and correcting anomalies that affect speech and language development, sensitivity, and learning delaysOutput harmful to hearing and potentially dangerous
AcupunctureUnblocking flow of energy “qi”Infection; Haemorrhage; Pain; Fear; Symptom aggravation
References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014). Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Data & statistics. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html

Ministry of Health Singapore (2010). Complementary and Alternative Medical Therapies (ASD). Retrieved from: http://www.moh.gov.sg/content/moh_web/healthprofessionalsportal/doctors/guidelines/cpg_medical/2010/cpgmed_autism_spectrum_disorders_preschool_children.html

Kemper, K. J. (2008). The use of complementary and alternative medicine in pediatrics. American Academy of Pediatrics, 122 (6), 1374-1386.

Lovaas, O. I. (1987). Behavioral treatment and normal educational and intellectual functioning in young autistic children. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 55(1), 3.

Schreck, K. A. & Miller, V. A. (2010). How to behave ethically in a world of fads. Behavioural Interventions, 25 (4), 307-324.

McEachin, J. J., Smith, T. & Lovaas, O. I. (1993). Long-term outcome for children with autism who received early intensive behavioural treatment. American Journal of Mental Retardation, 97(4), 359-372.

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