Nutritional Therapies For Autism

Certain digestive disorders and food sensitivities or allergies have been connected to autism.  There is no known causation between autism and the digestive issues as many children who are not on the spectrum experience the same problems.  What is different is that, changes in diet that affect digestion and food allergies or sensitivities in children with autism also seem to impact the children’s overall moods and behaviors as well.

That seems like common sense, too.  A child with autism who also has Celiac’s disease is often in pain with lots of abdominal discomfort.  He or she will act out, or strike out, like a wounded animal, when feeling the pain associated with the disease.  Or, the child may retreat from public situations or family surroundings, have trouble or regression with toilet training, or refuse to eat.  Changing to a gluten free diet, which is the common solution for any person with Celiac’s, not only alters the symptomology, but the behaviors associated with them.

Another digestive disorder, rare, but found in early childhood, is phenylketonuria.  Patients who suffer from this disorder are unable to process the chemical, phenylalanine.  If left untreated, it causes mental retardation as well as physical delays, almost mimicking autism and a few other developmental disorders.  Since its discovery in the late eighties and early nineties, most PKU children have been tested with a small blood draw right at birth that confirms or denies that they have the disease.  If a child tests positive for PKU, a diet prescribed by a pediatric dietician begins right away.  Children can’t consume soda pop or anything else with PKU as an ingredient, which means parents have to do a lot of label reading and are given a list of common foods that contain it.  Breastfeeding mothers can’t have anything with PKU in it either, as it will transfer through the breast milk to the baby.   In children who have been diagnosed with autism and PKU, the change in diet is dramatic enough to show improvements in their position on the spectrum itself.

Crohn’s disease, lactose intolerance, and irritable bowel syndrome are all lower GI problems that cause a wide range of symptoms from diarrhea to constipation, extremely painful bloating and gas, and vomiting.  Autistic children who are verbal can tell their parents what hurts and how they feel, but non-verbal children can only display what’s going on inside.  In each of these diseases, the GI tract is unable to process certain types of foods or enzymes related to those foods.  Dairy is a common food group necessary to a child’s physical growth, but if they have a disease that doesn’t allow them to process it without excruciating discomfort and upper and lower GI symptoms, they are going to do everything they can to let their parents know that they don’t like how they feel.

Whatever the disease or disorder, parents who are in tune to their children are able to catch it early.  Diet changes can begin immediately, and under a pediatrician’s care, they can continue.  Parents should keep a log of symptoms and their improval rate once the offending foods are removed, e.g., milk, wheat and/or gluten, etc.  Concerns for nutrition can be discussed with a pediatrician who will suggest that a multivitamin without the offending ingredients be used to supplement the autistic child’s diet.

In addition to nutritional diet changes, children with autism prefer bland foods.  This sometimes makes it very difficult to get them to eat things they should, such as fish and eggs, which produce strong odors.  Although getting them to eat the food is more important, when it can’t be done providing them with vitamin and mineral supplements is the second best thing.  Fish oil has proven to be extremely effective for the altered brains of people with autism, dementia and Alzheimer’s.  Most autistic children won’t go near a piece of fish, let alone eat it, so fish capsules swallowed are the recommended substitute. (They now make fish oil capsules that are odor free, which should help!)   Green leafy vegetables also seem to be something kids with autism avoid, and that leaves them without the right amounts of vitamins A, K, E, and C, as well as iron.  Meats with a high iron content, like liver, are not going to get past them either, so vitamin and mineral supplements that contain these are essential.  Kids who are willing to eat a banana at least every other day will have enough potassium, or vitamin K, in their diets, but iron only comes from dark leafy greens and liver, as does vitamins A and E.

Helping their brains with either the right “brain” foods or supplements also helps autistic children with their moods and behaviors.  Limiting sugar, as any parent with children would and should, has a more dramatic impact on the child with autism.  It’s not that they can’t have it, they just should have it in  much smaller quantities than their peers.   Correcting any digestive issues or diseases with diet also impacts them in a big way.  It’s a lot for any parent to break down the dietary needs of their children with autism, but once parents get into the routine of it, it becomes second nature.  Sometimes altering the whole family’s diet to match that of the autistic child actually makes the other members healthier for it, which isn’t a bad thing either.

Other, rarer digestive diseases have diet restrictions that must be followed.  Not following the diets closely can have serious repercussions, even death.  Parents who think their children with autism might have some digestive issues co morbid with the autism can ask a pediatrician for dietary suggestions and changes to see if it would help.  Again, keeping a journal of before and after symptoms and behaviors in children with autism who have dietary changes made for them can support any possible reason for further testing in a doctor’s office.

Stem Cell Therapy For Autism

Stem Cell Therapy: A Great Promise For The Future of Molecular Medicine For Autism

Ongoing research into every avenue to treat autism or possibly cure it has brought some researchers to the threshold of stem cell therapy.  Stem cell medicine is still in its infancy, and still is highly controversial.  Moving beyond the fetal stem cell issues and focusing more on the possibility of stem cells from cord blood helps researchers examine the possibility of a molecular medicinal approach for children and adults with ASD.

But that leads to an entirely new controversy unto itself.  Most adults with autism, especially those who can communicate, do not want a cure or a medicine that alters who they are.  They have identified that they are special people with special skill sets, and like the deaf community, they just aren’t interested in being “cured”.  The flip side of that argument is for the children who are having so many difficulties with school, society and peers, and the children on the lower functioning end of the spectrum.

Parents who face the challenges of autism every day are met with mixed emotions on the subject as well.  Some might say, “Absolutely, I want the cure or the treatment for my child”, while others would argue that it’s not for them and not for their children.  The parents who would not choose it for their autistic children are not cold-hearted people, but people who see their children as endearing and uniquely special, and love them unconditionally.  It’s a hard road to take, knowing that a choice you could have made may have benefited your child, but it also means that other features and traits in your child with autism remain a part of them and a part of who they are.

As the battle rages on for or against a cure or treatment that would alleviate autism symptoms, scientists are charging onward in the labs.  Parents now have the opportunity to harvest the umbilical cord and the cord blood at birth because the fetal stem cells in it could completely cure their child of any disease or illness in the future.  With that in mind, scientists are asking parents to donate some or  all of their cord blood to finding a cure or treatment for autism.

The cure or treatment developed would be delivered back into the child affected by autism when it begins to appear at age two.  Families who agree to participate are screened based upon family history and the number of children and adults in extended family that have been diagnosed with autism.  There certainly appears to be some genetic connection, as several families will have more than one child diagnosed with ASD over a couple of generations.  Cord blood is gathered and sent to the participating research lab with each birth in that family.  Some of it is used to look for genetic markers for ASD, and the rest is used to develop stem cell therapies that might work to counteract ASD, even when the cause is still relatively unknown.

The only FDA-approved stem cell therapy study currently undergoing research and development is out of Sacramento, CA, and the study won’t be finished for another year.  The children and their parents who have volunteered for the study did so only because they knew they had a child with autism and because they had harvested and saved the cord blood from their child’s birth years before.  Cord and cord blood banks deep freeze every patient’s sample, taking care to preserve the integrity of the cells found within.  Even in children without autism, stell cell therapy from their own cord blood has had a more positive impact on them than any treatment for childhood cancers or other physical maladies.

It is based upon the positive effects of cord blood stem cell therapies for these unfortunate diseases that the scientists hope to prove that cord blood stem cells are also effective against preventing the brain from damage, or curing it after the damage, of autism.  Essentially that is exactly what autism is; it is damage to specific areas of the brain, and that is why it can show up on an MRI/ neuroscan.

Other countries either claim to have the stem cell cure for autism already or are working on their own version of it.  Parents need to be particularly wary of any South American country that claims it can give the stem cell shots to their child and cure them, because no known or published medical trials of this sort have occurred in any of the countries there.  Additionally, these countries in South America claim that parents don’t need a sample of their autistic child’s cord blood for the treatment to work; on the contrary, that is exactly what is needed because only the child’s own cells can be reintroduced into their blood stream by injection.

Some European countries are still working on the research, but their results and findings are much farther along than the U.S.’s because they aren’t as squeamish about stem cell technology.  In fact, Great Britain has been using cord blood stem cells to treat diseases in children for almost a decade now, and recording their results publicly in medical journals.

Other lines of thought on cord blood stem cells run along the concept that the brain is deprived of oxygen in autistic children or that their guts are lacking the right peptides or bacteria causing them to behave in ways that aren’t in line with society’s expectations.   While there is some evidence to support these notions, further research into stem cell therapy to correct these two conditions in children with autism may advance medical science when it comes to understanding possible causes of ASD.  As of this moment, it hasn’t been fully ascertained that these problems are causes of ASD or just correlate it.

List of various therapies which might be useful in autism.
1). Does chelation therapy cure autism?
2). Does listening to music help ADD/ADHD or Autism?
3). What are the benefits of dance therapy for children with autism?

Also, check, “How to Find Funding for Autism Treatment“.

Autism Movement Therapy

Autism Movement Therapy and Why It Works

Autism movement therapy is one way to support your autistic child. It helps to decrease the symptoms of autism and can aid in behavior issues that are associated with autism. There are many reasons why dance and movement therapy is so successful in helping autistic patients.

To first understand the reasons why dance and movement therapy are so beneficial to autistic patients, you have to understand what is going on in the brain of an autistic child. Learning is made difficult for someone with autism, simply because they have a hard time accessing and retrieving information in their long and/or short term memory banks. This is because the transmitters are damaged in some way or the pathway does not exist at all. Experts liken it to a library in which none of the information is stored in an organized, easy to access way.

One reason why dance and movement therapy is so successful is that it helps to overcome and reduce the problem of retrieving or accessing information. Autism movement therapy is a method of cognitive redirectional therapy that helps to rebuild those pathways or make new ones. This means fewer or reduced symptoms and a greater ability to learn.

Music, rhythm, and sequential movements all work together to activate both the left and right sides of the brain. This is important for autistic children, because often the two sides do not communicate with each other, which is the cause of many of the symptoms of autism. This therapy causes them to find new pathways or reinforce the pathways that are there to increase the communication between the two hemispheres of the brain.

Dance movement therapy and autism reduction has been proven by many different studies. While it is an alternative therapy, the results that have been found are very encouraging. Autistic children and adolescents who undergo autism movement therapy are better able to focus, which allows them to learn more efficiently and access information more easily.

How does dance and movement therapy help?

By using music and movements, it creates a trigger for certain behaviors that aid in the brain processing more efficiently because both sides of the brain are working in conjunction with one another. This means that the child is able to retrieve information and retain information. In addition, children who have autism movement therapy also tend to wander less, show less resistive behavior, and have reduced negative response to being touched.

There are three different levels of autism movement therapy and each level builds upon the next.  The pacing through the levels is slow and this aids the students to more easily learn the movements. The therapy takes about 15 minutes and includes a warm-up, stationary movement, locomotion movement, improvisation, and relaxation or cool down. Once they have mastered the sequencing and patterns (information), then their body will respond to the information or triggers. This is the goal of dance and movement therapy.

Making any progress for an autistic child is significant. That is why many parents and caregivers choose to use autism movement therapy as an alternative treatment. Normally, it is used in conjunction with other types of therapy, but it is one that has been found to be extremely successful in helping to reduce certain behaviors and learning issues that autistic children are faced with.

Dance movement therapy and autism can go together quite well. The benefits are numerous and they can make a significant difference in the gains that your autistic child will be able to make now and in the future. Consider it as a therapy to support and aid your child.

Autism Movement Therapy
Autism Movement Therapy

Some More Therapies
1). Craniosacral Therapy
2). FAQ on Hippotherapy
3). Dolphin Therapy for Individuals with Autism

Don’t forget to check, “How to find fund for autism therapy

Autism and Dance Therapy

When a child is born with autism, there is a lot to consider. One aspect parent’s consider to be very important is how to connect with their child with autism. Dance therapy has shown some promising results when it comes to autism. However, this is usually helpful only when a very experienced professional dance therapist is present. The therapist usually has a master’s degree and many many hours of field experience. Over time, it has helped many to connect with their children with autism.

Dance therapy is the use of movement to affect the cognitive and behavioral functioning of an individual. The idea is that movement and emotion are connected, and that the body and mind are as one. That is to say, your movement is directly related to your thoughts and feelings in dance therapy.

There are four stages of dance therapy. There is preparation, which is like a warm, safety may be established through this method. The next stage is incubation, this is where the movements become less inhibitive and start to truly show the feelings of that person. Illumination is the stage in which the therapist brings to light the thoughts and feelings within the individual. The last stage is discussion, which will include informing the caretaker or parent of the outcome of the dance therapy.

One very important feeling that is being conveyed most often through dance therapy is empathy. When the dance therapist does a move, the person with autism may copy or mimic the move, this shows empathy. Through this movement and copying of movement, an empathetic conversation may be taking place within the mind of the person with autism and the therapist. This provides the therapist with a lot of information about what the person with autism is feeling and how they are thinking. Empathetic conversations are a major breakthrough when it comes to individuals with autism.

Dancing may be ideal for certain people with autism as it is structured and standardized, and this appeals to many people with autism. The combination of movement and music allows the autistic brain to arrange itself in a way it might not otherwise get. It also helps the brain to create new pathways that are helpful for children with autism. In addition to giving the therapist information, it may help the person with autism to better communicate simply because the brain is arranged in a different way during movement. This may help the person express themselves verbally, or non verbally more commonly.

There is a growing awareness of dance therapy as a way for those with autism to express themselves. Those with the aspergers form of autism benefit especially well to this form of exercise and therapy. Those with the aspergers form of autism are higher functioning, but normally emotionally crippled. People with aspergers may find it easier to move around in dance therapy, as some other forms of autism are physically crippling.

People with aspergers have a hard time expressing themselves and especially their emotions. With dance therapy, it is possible for the person to express themselves. If the proper steps are taken, and the highly qualified professional is there, there is a good chance that the therapist can tap into the mind of a person with aspergers. This could be huge for someone who is usually so closed off emotionally. Again, empathy is an important feeling that needs to be expressed. People with aspergers, by nature, have trouble showing empathy in general, and in general are seen as “closed books”, but through dance therapy, there is hope for those with aspergers. A child with autism took “Britains Got Talent”, a popular tv show, by storm showing his dance routine.

Autistic kid dancing
James Hobley Autistic or Artistic

More Therapies For ASD

1). Pivotal Response Therapy for Autism
3). Animal Assisted Therapy
4). Is hypnotherapy effective for anxiety in autism?
5). Hippotherapy

How to Find Funding for Autism Therapy

There is no doubt that autism is one of the leading diagnoses in modern medicine. More and more cases are identified each year, and more and more children are born with spectrum disorders. Little is understood about autism, making treatment even more difficult and expensive. This is not all bad news for the consumer. Since many autism interventions are new to the market, they are considered experimental or research oriented. This makes them eligible for grant funding, which directly benefits consumers. Individuals with autism who are willing to participate in these studies have access to multiple treatments and intervention strategies.

Autism spectrum disorders are also classified as educational disorders. This means that many of the costs associated with treating autism can be covered by the public school system. Under educational code, every student in the United States has the right to an appropriate and free education. This means that students with autism must have accommodations which enable them to learn as well as anyone else.

If additional therapy outside of the school is desired or needed, there are also many options for state funding. Regional centers for individuals with disabilities are typically located in major cities and serve their surrounding areas. The first step to getting on board with state funded resources is to contact the local regional center. If you cannot find one in your area, start with the local chapter of Americans with Disabilities Act, and they will put you in touch with the proper offices.

Once the proper offices have been reached, clients are assigned a case manager to oversee their services, needs and progress. The case manager who oversees the case will not likely handle all of the services. Many regional centers hire private companies as vendors through which they contract services. For example, if a client is seeking applied behavioral analysis therapy, the regional center will locate a center which provides them, and assign the client to that company. Then, the company will bill the regional center for all ABA services completed with that client.

Autism grants are typically awarded to centers which provide services. However, there are some grants which may be available in some states and counties which offer camps, scholarships for school and accessories for therapy. Technological devices are examples of accessories. There are several avenues to obtaining these at lowered or eliminated costs which vary by state and regional area.

There should be no reason for a client with autism to miss out on needed services for lack of finances. There are plenty of services that are provided at reduced or no cost to families who need them. Social security benefits may also apply to the individual with autism, as well as in home support services for respite care. Financial assistance for low functioning clients assists parents and caregivers with costs for diapering, medications, special diet and other items required for the care of the client.

Once a service center has been established and a caseworker has been assigned, the client will be assessed for service needs. Some of these might be components of school therapy. In this case, a recommendation will be made in the individual education plan and a service contractor will be assigned if it is not covered by the district. In some of these cases, such as with occupational therapy, the district does not employ service providers. The regional center will accommodate the school district and the funding will be split between the budgets of the two agencies, since both are funneled by the state.

Parents always have the option to pay for private services. Some people believe that they will get better services if they pay privately. This is not always the case. Many county and state programs offer highly qualified and experienced staff members to their clients. Out of pocket treatments might be very expensive.

1). Free money for children with autism
2). Top 5 Autism grants
3). Can I get paid to take care of a relative with autism?

Craniosacral Therapy

What is Craniosacral Therapy? How does it help autistic children?

Craniosacral therapy for children involves meticulous skeletal and muscular massage which aims to release emotional, communicative and physical blockages which treating professionals believe contribute to symptomatic behavior associated with spectrum disorders. Specifically, this treatment aims to regulate spinal fluid throughout the appropriate chambers of the body. Scientists who support craniosacral therapy believe that blocked passage of this fluid causes an imbalance in hormones which results in aggressive or self-harming behavior. Chiropractors and massage therapists who have studied autism spectrum disorders have developed a type of massage which addresses the blockage of this spinal fluid. While little is known about this unique therapy, there seems to be validity in the results. Spinal fluid is a known carrier of hormonal properties which are transmitted from the brain throughout the nervous system. Individuals with spectrum disorders and sensory problems may find relief through craniosacral massage therapy.

This treatment, as with any medical intervention, should be approached with caution. Only a qualified professional should initiate this treatment, and the client with autism should remain under the strict supervision of that professional. However, the skills of craniosacral therapy can be transferred to a parent or caregiver by a certified treating professional. Chiropractors and qualified massage therapists who are specially trained in craniosacral massage can develop a specific plan for the client, then instruct the caregiver in the administration of the massage.

If it is properly administered, the fluid from the spine is identified in blocked passages throughout the body. As massage is applied to these blockages, the fluid is released and dispersed appropriately throughout the skeletal and muscular systems, carrying hormonal information with it. Professionals, clients and caregivers report drastic improvement in behavior as well as a reduction in anxiety. The calming effects produced by craniosacral massage are well documented by treating professionals. The calming effects reduce self-injuring and aggressive behaviors by as much as eighty per cent.

Centers which provide craniosacral therapy can be discovered by consulting with a local chiropractor. If services are offered without clear understanding of their purpose, proceed with caution. If the chiropractor seems to be familiar with spectrum disorders and craniosacral therapy, this would be an ideal treatment center. Initially, the chiropractor or massage therapist will do a consulting appointment with the client and caregiver. Massage treatment can last anywhere between fifteen minutes and one hour. This is determined by the client’s ability to tolerate sensory stimulation and the cost of services.

Craniosacral therapy is recommended as a long term treatment for individuals with spectrum disorders. Some professionals recommend lifelong treatment, as relief is a temporary result of massage. Treatment cost can be relatively high compared with other autism treatments, especially when administered by a professional. The cost is approximately $125 per hour, and several sessions are recommended per week. However, the skills of the massage can be transferred to a caregiver, which reduces the cost tremendously over time. Once a caregiver has learned how to administer treatment, under the guidance of a professional, the client can benefit from craniosacral therapy without the cost.

Craniosacral therapy is a relatively new intervention for autism, but shows promising results. Children who are exposed to treatment have a documented increase in social skill development and reduction in anxiety. Since little is known about the causes of autism spectrum disorders, it is logical to try alternative treatments and explore the therapeutic options they provide. Solving spectrum disorder behaviors has proven a daunting task for those in the field of autism care. Craniosacral therapy offers data-supported solutions to some of these mal-adaptive behaviors. Once tension and stress are reduced, other interventions are possible. Overcoming anxiety is a common problem associated with treatment for those on the spectrum. Craniosacral therapy offers a viable solution to this and other problems.

Various therapies for autism

1). Chelation Therapy And Autism
2). Music Therapy For Autism
3). Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy For Autism
4). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
5). Aversive Therapy for Autism
6). Animal Assisted Therapy
7). Dolphin Therapy for Individuals with Autism
8). Pivotal Response Therapy for Autism

FAQ on Hippotherapy

Frequently Asked Questions about Hippotherapy for Individuals with Autism

1. What is hippotherapy?
Hippotherapy is a type of treatment which incorporates the use of horses into the therapeutic environment for individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Hippotherapy focuses on sensory, speech and social deficits common in children on the spectrum. These are the major deficits associated with autism, and it is unique to find a treatment which addresses all three components. Most authorized treatment centers employ the use of horses, and provide equestrian therapy. Clients learn to interact with the animal with reciprocity, building a safe foundation for communication, other awareness and social interaction. These skills are then transferred into a social setting with other children. How does the horseback riding therapy benefit my autistic child?

2. Is hippotherapy safe for my child with autism?
Hippotherapy is incredibly safe for children with autism. Animals are trained by highly qualified professionals. They are also attended by several supervising professionals during all client contact sessions. Clients are carefully and meticulously screened as candidates for treatment prior to starting sessions with the animal. Hippotherapy treatment can only commence after all precautions have been taken and covered. For these reasons, it is deemed safe for children with autism. Many children benefit from this intervention, lowering their risks for self-injuries and anxiety attacks. Every treatment carries with it some form of risk. Therapists seek to minimize the risk to any treatment as significantly as possible.

3. What do researchers have to say about hippotherapy?
Hippotherapy is not without its skeptics in therapeutic circles. However, research indicated that speech, anxiety and compliance skills improved as much as seventy per cent with a regular course of treatment for clients with autism. These studies were taken by hippotherapists themselves and promoted as beneficial outcomes of the treatment. While they are not yet substantiated by the whole of the autism community, many believe in the validity of the intervention. Since little is known about the causes and outcomes of autism spectrum disorders, hippotherapy cannot be entirely dismissed as a viable treatment. There are many clients who strongly recommend hippotherapy as an intervention while others decry it as junk science. Since every child on the spectrum reacts differently to intervention strategies, there is absolutely no reason to rule it out altogether.  The American Hippotherapy Association is a group of professionals who work in the various fields related to autism. These professionals govern the use of hippotherapy in the United States.

4. What therapeutic benefit does the horse provide?
The focus of hippotherapy is on the movement of the horse. Horses move in response to their handlers or riders. The child with autism learns to communicate desired movements to the horse, establishing joint attention and reciprocity. These are often key factors that are missing in optimal development and are addressed in the hippotherapy setting. Other benefits from hippotherapy include improved muscle tone, strength, balance and coordination. Sensory processing has also been shown to improve with regular sessions in hippotherapy. Through the interactions with the horse, the child learns to be aware of his body and his ability to use it to communicate. The horse reduces anxiety by responding to the communication effort without the pressure of verbal language. These benefits combine to make hippotherapy one of the most comprehensive treatments available.

5. How do I find a center for hippotherapy?
There are centers located throughout the country which provide hippotherapy services. These are not to be confused with riding therapy, which does not provide the communication and social based treatments associated with hippotherapy. In order to find a center, start with a physician recommendation. This will ensure that the child receives the benefits of the treatment that address the medical and physiological aspects of autism. As hippotherapy gains popularity as an effective and comprehensive treatment for autism spectrum disorders, centers have emerged in nearly every major city. Treatment centers should offer a complete staff of qualified therapists and equestrian handlers. If a physician is not familiar with hippotherapy or its benefits, it might be a good idea to consult with the local regional center. These caseworkers can recommend physicians and other medical professionals who can assist in choosing a center and program.

6. How much does hippotherapy cost?
Hippotherapy is more expensive that riding therapy. This is because of the level of training involved in developing and implementing programs. There are also more precautions taken with both the animals and the clients. Evaluation costs are often separate from therapy session costs. Typically, these range between $60 and $250, depending on the length of session, location, therapist and type of horse.

7. Is hippotherapy covered by insurance?
Unfortunately not many insurance companies cover expenses  However it may varies on severity of the autism and insurance company’s policies, you must contact your insurance company and ask for the approvals.

8. How will a horse help improve my child’s speech development?
The horse will serve as a therapeutic tool for the therapist to engage the child. The first stages of hippotherapy involve nonverbal language and movement response. As the horse moves in response to the child’s nonverbal commands (body posture, heel pressure, rein tightening and leaning position) the child learns functional communication skills. After a short time, the child is able to give one word commands to the animal, with a guaranteed and consistent response. The horse does not present verbal pressure from the child, so the child can focus on his own language. Then, once these skills are mastered they can be transferred into social settings. The horses receive specialized training in responses and are temperate matches for each client.

9. My child has never been around horses. Will this matter?
Many children with autism are exposed to horses for the first time during hippotherapy sessions. The introduction phase is different for each child. However, most therapists find that the child is able to adjust to the animal within the first few sessions. These are animals that are specially trained to work with special needs children.  Most parents are pleasantly surprised by how quickly their child adapts to the horse.

10. Will my child need special clothing for riding?
Loose fitting clothing, pants and closed toed shoes are all that is needed for a successful ride. Riding clothes do not need to be purchased. Helmets are provided by the therapy centers in most cases. The child will not need boots; tennis shoes will suffice. The more comfortably the child dresses, the more secure they will be during session.

11. How long are hippotherapy sessions?
Session length depends upon the therapeutic program chosen. Some children are able to handle longer sessions while others need shorter sessions. Session length can last anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours. Some centers incorporate social skills training as a transfer clinic on site. This is where the children transfer the skills they have learned in therapy to a social group setting. Not all facilities offer this step.

12. What ages are appropriate for hippotherapy?
Hippotherapy suits anyone who can sit up on a horse. Children aged 2 through adult are able to receive the benefits of this treatment. Clients over 170 pounds should take caution, as the horse may not be able to accommodate their weight. However, there are movement treatments under the umbrella of hippotherapy which do not incorporate riding. Clients who are too big to ride can benefit from these intervention strategies and reap the same benefits as riding. This is also one of the reasons hippotherapy is different from riding therapy.

Check out,
1). Animal Assisted Therapy for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
2). Does dolphin assisted therapy work?

Dolphin Therapy for Individuals with Autism

There are many different needs and challenges associated with autism spectrum disorders. These disorders are still largely a mystery to scientists, doctors and other professionals. There are several recommended therapies, but few are backed by hard evidence. Due to the lack of knowledge and limitations with recommended treatments, many people with autism opt for alternative therapies. One of these alternatives is Dolphin Assisted Therapy, or DAT. This treatment involves the client interacting with dolphins in a controlled marine environment, accompanied by a treating specialist such as a psychologist or licensed therapist.

DAT offers children and adults with spectrum disorders the unique opportunity to get into the water and interact with dolphins which have been specially trained for the encounter. The therapy is predicated on the belief that dolphins and humans have a special connection that has a calming effect on both the person and the animal. Proponents of the treatment boast incredible progress rates. Some percentages of speech and language improvement are near eighty per cent. However, these statistics should be approached with caution as they are not backed by any scientific evidence that has been taken from an unbiased source.

DAT is believed to target emotional and communicative challenges that affect people with autism. Dolphins are effective because the verbal pressure is taken off of the child, and nonverbal interaction is possible. Children with autism sometimes have social aversions which may lead to anxiety, but can interact with dolphins and other animals in a way that allows them to progress socially until they are ready to transfer the acquired skills into relationships and interactions with other people.

DAT should only be considered under the supervision of a recommending doctor. There are many physicians who support alternative treatments such as DAT. People who are prone to seizures are not candidates for DAT treatment. There are also some medications which may disqualify a patient from participation. These are examples of medical consultation questions to ask prior to seeking dolphin therapy. A treating psychologist should also be a participant in the treatment team, in order to ensure a successful treatment. Occupational therapists offer effective treatments during the dolphin sessions, and it is a benefit to have them on board with the treatment plan.

Another reason to start with a physician and include a team of professionals is to ensure that you have found a valid center providing appropriate treatment. There are many marine facilities willing to cash in on special needs services that do not provide therapeutically beneficial programs. Legitimate facilities will employ a team of professionals specifically trained in autism spectrum disorders. They will not promise to cure autism. Consumers should request references and interview treating professionals before committing to the costs associated with treatment.

DAT sessions are approximately fifteen minutes in length. Success rates are reported when clients receive daily sessions for approximately ten days. DAT sessions cost approximately three hundred dollars per session. Expenses are somewhat higher with dolphins than other treatment animals due to the costs of maintenance, training and liability insurance incurred by the dolphins. Since this is an alternative treatment, it is not covered by most insurance plans. Some centers may offer financing options.

DAT offers individuals with autism the opportunity to interact with a species that is in tune with the unexpressed emotions of people. It offers them the chance to explore reciprocal interaction without social rejection or anxiety. Autism is not completely understood by science, which means that interventions are not all completely understood. Positive results are reported by proponents of DAT, as well as many parents of children with autism. While the reported results may not have full backing from scientific communities, this could be contributed to general lack of scientific knowledge about autism.

Related Articles:
1). What are the benefits of massage therapy for autism?
2). Pivotal Response Therapy for Autism
3). Animal Assisted Therapy
4). Is hypnotherapy effective for anxiety in autism?

Benefits of Massage Therapy For Autism

Autism spectrum disorders are often noted for symptoms associated with sensory disorders. Many individuals on the spectrum experience sensory processing disorders. For some, being touched may bring intolerable discomfort. For others, sensory information is blocked or obscured so that the individual seeks stimulation more than those who develop typically. Massage therapy can be of extreme benefit to these individuals. Massage therapy addresses the specific sensory disorders associated with autism and seeks to provide a systematic desensitization to pain through touch. Gentle massage and deep tissue massage for joints has been proven to help individuals on the spectrum overcome sensory processing disorders to lead a more normal life.

Sensory massage for individuals with autism is based on the premise that the sensory receptors are immature and require development. The massage that is administered is geared toward producing positive sensory input and healing receptors which are affected by the disorder. By applying deep pressure to the joints and surrounding tissue, individuals with autism report intense relief of bothersome symptoms as well as reduction in mal-adaptive self-stimulating behaviors. This is the goal of treatment for any person who seeks relief through massage therapy.

Touch is hardwired to the brain to evoke and protect emotion. Individuals with autism have impairments of varying degrees to these internal systems, and therefore must be addressed individually. For example, when a client is extremely sensitive to light touch, they may experience high anxiety. Anxiety is tied to fear, anger and other feelings. Therefore, a deep tissue massage, which targets affected joints, is in order for a client sensitive to light touch. This bypasses the intrusive areas and provides intense relief without emotional duress or anxiety. Along with the underlying issues related to tactile stress, the outward behaviors are also targeted. Children who are highly sensitive to sensory stimuli may have a tendency toward mal-adaptive behaviors, such as tantrums and aggression. They may be likely to self-injure, throw things and lash out at others due to their extreme discomfort. Massage therapy for individuals with autism offers an ideal alternative to these challenges.

Massage therapy is not often covered by mainstream insurance companies. However, if it is recommended by an occupational therapist and covered in an individualized education plan (IEP) as a beneficial strategy to improve comfort and learning, it may be covered by state costs. Therefore, it is important to cover these bases while researching therapy options. If massage therapy is recommended, it can be pursued through the state channels, such as the school, regional center or occupational therapist. If the therapy is not recommended under these umbrellas, there are private centers available for treatment.

Treatment centers which offer private sessions should be approached with caution. This is not to say that there is concern for their validity, but qualifications should be thoroughly examined. Massage therapists who do not have experience with autism should not be considered. Massage therapy for individuals with autism is a calculated treatment that could cause harm if improperly administered. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the child to seek out professionals with autism experience. As an increasingly popular treatment for autism, massage therapists who specialize in this treatment should not be difficult to locate.

Sessions can cost anywhere between $25 – $200 for treatment. This is determined by the age of the client, the length of the session and the credentials of the providing professional. These costs can be covered by insurance if specified in the plan or specifically recommended by a treating physician (preferably a neurologist). Once a center and professional have been chosen, results should be apparent in less than one month. Treatment typically lasts at least one year or longer.

You should check out these autism therapies as well.
1). Chelation Therapy And Autism
2). Music Therapy For Autism
3). Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy For Autism
4). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
5). Aversive Therapy for Autism
6). Animal Assisted Therapy

Commitments and Costs Associated with Pivotal Response Therapy

Pivotal response therapy (PRT) branched off from applied behavioral analysis therapy. PRT focuses on developmental achievements for individuals with autism. It is based on a natural reinforcement system, which encourages communication and processing. PRT is play centered and child directed. Parent involvement is a key component of PRT, as it is ideal for the parents or caregivers to establish bonding and communication with their child with autism.

PRT is a scientifically backed intervention with clearly documented benefits. It contains components of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and floortime therapy, which reinforces communication. PRT reinforces with a natural response. If the child says “cup” when he is communicating that he actually wants a drink, he is given an empty cup. When he requests the appropriate drink, he is given that drink. For example, when he says “milk” he is given milk. This approach broadens vocabulary, functional communication and social awareness.  This is only a small scale example of this diverse approach.

Centers for PRT are available in communities across the country, and are currently being funded as programs for intervention and support. PRT encourages increased communication and reduced negative behaviors. Currently, this is the highest recommended approach for autism and is advocated by physicians and educators as the only scientifically verifiable approach. Behavioral progress is guaranteed with proper application of treatment for PRT and ABA approaches.

PRT therapy is administered by a professional with the appropriate levels of training. Typically, these professionals are special educators, speech therapists or behavior therapists. Appropriate therapeutic intervention requires approximately twenty-five to thirty hours per week. There are centers in cities and towns across the country to provide these services. Some school districts also offer intervention services, and deliver them during the school day. Other private companies provide services in the home or at a day center.

School programs which incorporate PRT work well with the child, but are difficult to transfer to the home. For this reason, there are privately funded as well as public organizations providing PRT services for the home environment. Therapy does not necessarily need to take place in the home. Caregiver or parent involvement is imperative. In these settings, a therapist works with the parent and child to build communication and natural reinforcement in a play setting.

The cost of PRT services varies for different clients. The cost is determined by the type of service, and whether it is covered by state funding. In many instances, families do not pay for services directly. Rather, taxes are diverted into each state budget and set aside for these services. Federal money is also distributed to programs with state funding options. These programs are ideal, as they are accountable to treatment guidelines that are determined and enforced by the state. PRT services are lower in cost than comparative treatments. Costs for these services run between $50 and $260 per hour. depending upon the experience and credential of the professional. Many of these costs are covered by insurance or state disability programs. Some states, such as California, have recently passed laws which force insurance companies to cover ABA and PRT services for clients with autism.

Autism treatment is a growing industry. As research reveals more and more about this mysterious disorder, treatment models are developed. The most successful treatments must be made available to clients with autism in order to better understand spectrum behavior. PRT provides clients with access to pro-social behavior development and communication skills that they would not otherwise develop. For this reason, cost assistance is available through many sources. State funding, special programs and private grants are available for individuals with autism to receive the best possible interventions.