Animal Assisted Therapy

Animal Assisted Therapy for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Children with spectrum disorders often have social impairments, which impede communication. One therapeutic intervention that is especially beneficial is Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT). Social impairments often impede the child from getting his emotional needs met. Communication and connectivity play a major role. Human interaction is largely based upon language, which causes anxiety in most children with autism. Language deficits and social impairments are closely related. AAT addresses these issues by providing the child with a relational bond to another living creature. This allows for growth and emotional development that is transferable to other people. Some of these developed skills are empathy, other awareness and self-awareness.

Animal assisted therapy can take a variety of forms. Some parents choose to get a family pet and introduce the concept gradually. If the child shows interest in the new pet they will likely benefit from AAT. Specially designed programs are available to suit the interests and needs of the child. Research indicates that children who receive some form of AAT benefit physically and emotionally from the intervention. Animals have proven to be very effective in helping children with ASDs develop bonding capabilities, reducing stress and improving behaviors related to stress. These behaviors are commonly termed as “melt-downs” by family members, caregivers and therapists.

Studies in New Mexico indicated that children with autism who received various forms of AAT demonstrated lowered blood pressure and reduced insomnia. These results indicate that AAT reduces anxiety, which affects most children with autism. Sensory stressors, communication frustrations and environmental factors are all leading causes of anxiety for the child with autism. AAT serves as an intervention for each of these factors.

AAT promotes the development of problem-solving skills and choice-making skills. These skills are developed as the child forms a bond with the animal. Once the bond is established, opportunities for positive exchange are presented. Animal assisted therapy offers the child a safe and structured way to navigate the complexities of emotional bonding. Animals are ideal candidates for emotional bonds because they do not require verbal communication. Many have found that equestrian and canine assisted therapies are most beneficial to establishing relational bonding for children on the spectrum.

Equestrian therapy is reinforcement based. Canine therapy offers more initiation and prompting. Equestrian therapy requires the child to communicate directions to the animal while they are emotionally relaxed. The animal responds when the child is calm and clear. There is no verbal communication required, which takes the pressure off the child to communicate the directions. They simply must relax and respond to the therapist. The animal responds to the child’s successful response. Canine therapy prompts the child to respond to a calming presence and regulate his or her stress. The dogs are trained to detect stress and anxiety. The dogs are conditioned to act in a manner which produces a calming effect on the child. The child, now relaxed, is ready for increased interaction with the dog. A productive back-and-forth communication is established, again without verbal pressure.

Temple Grandin is a famous speaker and author, who obtained her PhD in animal science. She is a person with autism. Dr. Grandin pioneered the modern animal farming industry by changing the way animals are slaughtered and herded. She used her autism to her advantage by seeing through the eyes of the animals and creating more humane and efficient ways to improve the process of meat production. She is also a prominent advocate of animal assisted therapies for individuals with autism. Dr. Grandin promotes AAT for individuals of all ages on the spectrum. While the intervention is a fairly new concept in the autism world, it is showing promising results as it is more widely implemented.

Why swimming with dolphins is the best therapy for disabled children or autistic children?

Is Hypnotherapy effective?

Other Autism Therapies,
1). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Individuals with Autism
2). Aversive Therapy for Autism
3). Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy For Autism

Please check out, Autism FAQ.

Aversive Therapy for Autism

Aversive therapy is the most controversial treatment available for individuals with autism. This therapy involves the use of electric shock as a response to mal-adaptive behaviors. When the individual with autism is plagued with behaviors which hinder their safety and the safety of others, aversive therapy is sometimes recommended as a last resort treatment. The aggressive nature of the treatment has drawn the criticism of many reputable treatment centers and professionals, as well as parents and other community members. Despite these criticisms, there are parents and professionals who stand by aversive therapy as their treatment lifeline.

There are far fewer centers which offer aversion therapy than those which offer more widely accepted behavioral intervention services. One reason for this is that it is reserved for only the most severe cases. The ethical standard of treating any person, physically or psychologically, is that the treatment benefits must not harm the person, and it must improve their quality of life. It must not be merely experimental with risk of these things. In some very severe cases, behaviors associated with autism may hinder not only the quality of life or the person with autism, but also his or her physical safety and that of others. Self-injuring behaviors, such as biting or head-banging can seriously injure a person with impulsive tendencies to do them. These behaviors can also be assaultive, which can endanger others. In these extreme cases, when all other interventions have failed to improve these behaviors, aversion therapy treatment may be sought as a solution. When the person is exposed to a light shock, an aversion to the mal-adaptive behavior associated with the shock is developed.

Many treatment centers have stalled their programs in the last year as the leading center for aversion therapy for students with autism has fallen under scrutiny. The Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Massachusetts was the leading center for aversion therapy until 2011 when they were accused of abusing students and misusing the therapy. Other centers have quietly halted treatment and only a few reserve it for extreme cases. These centers are only available with a medical referral, typically by a neurologist and psychiatrist. In California, UCLA provides this therapy under strict medical supervision.

Aversion Therapy Costs

Costs associated with aversion therapy for individuals with autism can be as high as $220,000 per year. This is determined by the involvement of external programs, frequency of treatment and other factors. Currently, costs are not covered under major insurance carriers. The major reason for the high cost is level of physician expertise and liability coverage.

Those who do advocate the validity of autism aversion therapy maintain that it should only be administered in a clinical setting. The Judge Rotenberg Educational Center is deemed by nearly all credible experts as an inappropriate setting for aversion therapy. In this case, staff was not properly trained and students did not receive proper administration of the treatment. The incidents prompted an internationally raised eyebrow, as well as a UN investigation and ultimate call for banning the procedure altogether. Several states took up litigation causes to attempt to ban the practice of aversion therapy for individuals with autism. It should be noted that aversion therapy is considered a viable treatment for behavioral disorders not related to autism, such as addiction. There is little social resistance to the use of these methods to treat addiction, whereas it is nearly a consensus opinion that it is abuse for those with autism.

Aversion therapy for individuals with autism should be considered as a last resort. If this is the case, a team of medical professionals provide the best consultants to find a center for treatment. Despite the high cost and controversy, aversion therapy is extremely effective in addressing dangerous behaviors.

Articles you should check out,
1). What are intervention strategies for autism?
2). What are the behavioral characteristics of autism?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Individuals with Autism

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is among the leading recommended interventions for individuals with autism. CBT focuses on the internal structures of the individual, encouraging him to become aware of the link between his emotions and actions. Individuals with autism are often affected by social impairments which limit their capacity to associate their feelings and actions. In addition, they often suffer from anxiety. Individuals with autism are wired to be anxious as a primary response to sensory stimuli, unfamiliar surroundings, change in schedule or circumstance, social interaction and verbal communication. CBT addresses this anxiety as well as related emotions and behaviors.

Who does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy work for?

CBT is most often recommended for high functioning individuals on the spectrum. Cognitive awareness requires communication capability that is near age appropriate typical development. It is not normally recommended for children under the age of eight. Young children are not candidates for CBT, because they do not have the necessary skills to benefit from treatment. However, once a child reaches the age of eight and demonstrates the basic communication skills required to beneficially participate in CBT, they can begin sessions with a qualified professional. Communication skill improvement and emotional awareness are reported to improve noticeably within only a few sessions and continue to progress throughout treatment.

CBT strategies

CBT strategies include the use of social stories and role playing in order to prompt the child to see their circumstances from the perspectives of others. CBT further encourages the child to develop the skills to soothe himself rather than depend upon external environmental factors. This promotes emotional growth and pro-social behavior skill development. One-on-one coaching for the client entails reducing anxiety by helping the client through a provocative experience. For example, if a client is drawn to watch television, but demonstrates extreme anxiety during commercials, the client would be taught to identify the anxious feelings and respond to them proactively. The client will be taught to use the mute button, rather than injure himself.

CBT can be administered by parents and educators under the supervision of a treating therapist. Since the tools for skill development which are key to CBT are educationally based, this therapy is ideally introduced in the child’s natural setting such as the classroom or the home.  Treatment is widely available due to these factors, and it is a relatively low in cost since a psychologist does not administer the intervention.

How long does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy take?

CBT is recommended for approximately twelve to eighteen weeks in duration, administered approximately twenty-five hours per week. These are hours that are completed with the professional, such as a teacher or speech therapist with parent participation. The average cost of this treatment is $150 per session, and insurance companies typically cover a significant percentage. Many insurance companies cover as much as half of the treatment cost. The session cost will also vary according to the selected professional. If a parent chooses to go with a doctor such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, the costs will be significantly higher than if they chose a more direct service professional.

Cognitive behavior therapy must be administered under the direct supervision of a qualified professional, so parents should beware of private service companies who do not have clear qualifications. Insurance companies will not cover the costs of unqualified provision centers. Lack of proper qualifications also puts the client with autism at risk of receiving mal-practice pare.

How effective is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive behavior therapy is a preference of many parents of children with autism. Many clients report growth and development of emotional intelligence and communication. This scientifically backed intervention is an ideal way to address some of the most common challenges associated with autism and other spectrum disorders.

Continue, Various Intervention Strategies For Autism and Duration of intervention and associated treatment costs for individuals with autism.

Detailed description can be found about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy on wikipedia.

Intervention Timeline and Cost

Duration of intervention and associated treatment costs for individuals with autism

There is no way to tell how long a child with autism will require intervention without a thorough assessment. There are many treatments available for individuals with autism, many of which are covered by insurance or government assistance. There are also private care options for autism treatment. There are programs which claim to be able to cure autism, which are not credible with any scientific panel. There are many ways to make positive progress toward overcoming the challenges associated with a spectrum diagnosis. These treatment options include medical, behavioral and educational.

Individuals with autism experience developmental changes as they grow older. Some of these are hormonal and physical changes while others are responsive changes. Hormonal and physical changes occur naturally with age. Responsive changes are dependent upon education, intervention and structure. Responsive changes may not occur at developmentally appropriate times, and are therefore out of sync with many physical changes. This is especially true in severe cases of ASD, as well as in cases of comorbidity. Intervention would be appropriate for this individual, even if services were offered and completed at an earlier age.

An individual with autism who has experienced a lengthy delay in developing functional communication may resort to tantrum behaviors during adolescence or adulthood. The individuals with autism are physically larger and stronger as they physically mature than when the tantrum behavior was developmentally appropriate, such as during infant or toddler years. A child may master functional communication if he has access to early intervention, but may relapse in later age as hormonal changes occur. Intervention would be appropriate to reduce tantrum behavior and improve functional communication so that the person with autism is not a danger to himself or others.

Interventions for autism can be extremely expensive. However, many treatments are covered in educational costs. According to federal education code, every child in the United States is entitled to a “free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment”. (Code of Federal Regulations, Education) Speech therapy, occupational therapy, psychological testing, para-educator support (one-on-one aide in classroom), adaptive physical education and individual educational planning are included in public school education for the student with autism.

Additional supports are outside the realm of education. These are often covered by state health care, either covered through social security, state disability or regional service centers. These centers, which are funded by the state and federal governments, cover the cost of in home support services, respite care, family education, medical care and accessories, personal assistance and dietary costs for the individual with autism. Under the qualifying diagnosis, a child who has not mastered potty training within a developmentally appropriate amount of time would be eligible to have the cost of diapers covered by these services. These costs add up for the family and are directly related to the diagnosis. In order to maintain a balanced society which does not financially discriminate or exploit the disabled, people with specified disorders are able to claim these costs in their state of residence.

Private schools and programs may be very costly. Many private autism therapy groups offer behavioral services, which cost thousands of dollars per client per year. Equestrian, or hippotherapy, are even more costly. These can be as much as several hundred dollars per session or treatment program step.

While there is no way to determine the necessary length of treatment, the costs can be quite manageable. Privatized and public services for autism intervention hire the same professionals to offer services. The first step to obtaining services is to call the local center for disabilities. Regional centers are located throughout the country, and assist clients with opening cases. Advocacy services are often included in these programs.

Autism Spectrum Therapies

Various Therapies and Interventions for Individuals on the Spectrum

Autism is a neurological disorder which impairs social skill development, language development and external awareness or interest. These factors are considered the diagnostic criteria for autism, and can apply to anyone on the spectrum. The spectrum disorders contain several types of affective autism disorders. These are known as Autism Spectrum Disorders, or ASDs. Included in this diagnostic group are autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, pervasive development disorder and non-specified disorder. These are recognized by the qualifying impairments.  Interventions and therapeutic strategies are specifically designed to target the impairments associated with the identified placement on the spectrum.

Contrary to the claims of books and programs, there is no known cure for autism. Researchers are still seeking the causal links to autism, while diagnostic rates increase each year. While these answers are sought, interventions are developed to address social, mental, learning and language impairments for individuals on the spectrum. Interventions are classified into three groups; medical, behavioral and educational.

Medical interventions for autism address both spectrum disorders and simultaneous diagnoses common with ASDs. Anxiety is an especially common diagnosis for individuals on the spectrum. Medication is often prescribed to reduce anxiety so that behavioral interventions are possible. Psychiatric care is often a key component of the treatment of ASDs. Neurologists and other specialists may be a part of the medical care team for the individual on the spectrum.

Dietary therapy is one approach that has been accepted within the ASD caregiver community. Some studies have indicated that there is a link to dietary disorders and symptoms of autism. A few of these treatment plans claim that autism can be reversed through extreme dietary measures. This is not scientifically or medically verified. However, some parents strongly believe that there is a link between food allergy and autism. Vitamin and herbal supplement regimens are included in this approach.

Behavioral interventions are even more diversified than the medical approach. These therapies are designed to target specific social impairments consistent with and ASD diagnosis. Some therapies strategize to target anxiety while others target social interactions and communication. These therapies have attained varying levels of endorsement from the scientific community, which does not seem to significantly affect the preference of parents and caregivers. Many parents feel that since we know so little about the origins of autism, a trial and error approach is ideal.

Applied Behavior Analysis is the most scientifically endorsed intervention for children on the spectrum. ABA orders the environment of the child and controls the reinforcement for behavior. This serves to eliminate problematic behavior by replacing it with pro-social behavior.

Floortime is another widely accepted therapeutic approach for autism. This therapy focuses on the emotional and internal structures of the child, whereas ABA is environmentally focused. Floortime is most effective with young children, often prior to diagnosis when symptomatic behaviors to indicate ASDs are present.

Hippotherapy incorporates animal riding and is used as a sensory approach to bonding and reducing anxiety. This therapy is more controversial as it is not endorsed by any major medical field. However, many parents report that it is effective in treating and diminishing their child’s social anxiety.

Educational approaches are often incorporated into behavioral intervention strategies. These treat the language impairments which inhibit communication efforts for children with autism. Language deficits often lead to social impairments. One major strategy categorized in this group is the use of PECS, or the Picture Exchange Communication System.

Other educational strategies include occupational therapy and adaptive physical education. These strategies address the sensory disorders associated with ASDs. Occupational therapy is an especially effective treatment for children with autism. This helps children to focus on comforting solutions to sensory irritations, which is extremely helpful for behavioral and social interventions.

Speech and Language Acquisition for the Autistic Learner

Speech and language are acquired through social interaction and mimicking social patters with nonverbal language in typically developing children. The learner with autism faces deficits in language acquisition largely due to social impairment, including joint attention. Children with autism prefer internal stimuli, as the prefix “aut” indicates, meaning “self”. They are not pressed to interact with others, only to communicate their basic needs and wants. This is often accomplished without a firm grasp of appropriately developed language. In order to acquire language, the learner with autism must be taught language in ways which specifically target social impairments with language deficits.

Early intervention is key to successful learning. Language development occurs in the brain at a much faster rate during the first five years in typically developing children. By age five, the child will have thousands of words in their vocabulary. By contrast, the child with autism may begin forming verbal language around age five, often only with intense instruction.

Verbal acquisition is often the very first step to language development for all learners. It is the beginning of a new set of complications for the learner with autism. Many children on the spectrum develop the ability to speak without developing the ability to functionally communicate.

Echolalia describes repetitive language. The child repeats what he or she hears, but communication is often undetectable by others. Echolalia is a normal stage of language acquisition in typically developing children. Children on the spectrum seem to get stuck at this stage of development. However, it can be used to teach communicative language with the use of prompts and reinforcement. In this type of intervention, the child is reinforced positively with appropriate phrases for prompted objects. Prompting is eventually faded and the child is only reinforced when he or she initiates appropriate communication.

Processing language is also extremely difficult for many children on the spectrum. Verbal pollution is a term used by educators and speech therapists to describe the way children with autism take in typically spoken language. For example, if the child with autism is given a direction which includes multiple steps and description words, he or she is likely to get lost in translation. This sometimes manifests as sensory overload, which can even be a cause for pain or irritation to the child. This negative reinforcement may result in a hesitation to engage in communication.

Language development is affected by multiple factors in children with autism. Social impairments, processing disorder and developmental delays inhibit or stall the successful acquisition of language. Among these, social impairments are significantly affective. Social interventions are especially imperative to helping a child with autism develop language. This can be accomplished through a variety of strategies. Social stories are especially effective for children with autism. They can be adapted to the functional capability of the child.

Language development can seem like an especially challenging feat for a child who is considered low-functioning. Some children may even be nonverbal. These children can still develop communicative language. PECS is a patented program formally known as the Picture Exchange Communication System. Using this system, the child is taught to choose pictures from a chart to represent their requests or expressions. This enables the child to access language using his or her strengths of visual processing. Sign language is also an appropriate mode of communication for nonverbal children.

Speech and language acquisition is a complicated process for children on the spectrum. Language deficits for children on the spectrum lead to opportunities for learning outside of the typical box. All children on the spectrum can learn to communicate in some capacity.

Most Related Concerns:

1). Intervention Strategies For Autism
2). Establishing Joint Attention with your Autistic Child
3). Adaptations in Autism: Social Skill Development and Stimming
4). Assistive Technology For Children With Autism

Adaptations in Autism: Social Skill Development and Stimming

Children with autism often experience social impairments. These include deficits to social awareness, cues and communication. Social skills typically develop through processes of reciprocity and social reinforcement. Children on the spectrum do not develop typically in these ways. They are internally stimulated and often unaware of or uninterested in the awareness of others. Pro-social behavior must be taught and reinforced in order to establish successful communication and skill development. Interventions for social adaptations are plentiful, and vary with the spectrum disorder.

Social impairments are manifested in a variety of ways, one of which is stimming. Stimming is a repetitive behavior which may lead to obsessive behavior. Stimming interferes with social interaction and skill development. The child with autism may be stimulated by a certain object, idea or behavior. This stimulation leads to an intense focus on the source, and reduces the significance of the anything else in the environment. Stimming can be manifested in virtually any form of sensory stimuli.

Stimming can lead to intense negative behaviors upon interruption. When a child is receiving desired stimuli from repetitive or obsessive behavior, anyone who attempts to disrupt the stimulation might find himself a target of aggression. Stimming is rarely socially acceptable behavior. In most social settings, it is considered abnormal and does not promote relationship building or social success. It is best to prevent severe stimming with early distraction or redirection.

Applied behavior analysis, or ABA is the most effective intervention for reducing stimming behavior. The behavior is then replaced with pro-social behavior. In some cases, it is eliminated altogether. The child is taught to seek stimulation from a more appropriate source. For example, when a child stims on oral fixation, he or she might engage in self-injuring behavior such as hand biting. An appropriate replacement would be chewing gum, if the child is high functioning and it is safe for the child to offer it. In time, the child learns to chew gum rather than his or her hand. Another replacement for hand biting might be raw carrots or celery, to engage the oral stimulation that is sought.

Stimming is often triggered by anxiety. Therefore, if the stimming is to be eliminated other coping skills must be adapted. These pro-social coping skills will reduce the desire to stim and encourage independence for the child. Intervening before the child hits an anxiety level which will cause a stimming meltdown is key to elimination. This means recognizing and interpreting the signals the child with autism may demonstrate prior to stimming. Once these signals are recognized, the therapist or caregiver will prompt pro-social behavior and provide immediate reinforcement.

Reciprocity is a common intervention strategy to encourage pro-social behavior. Turn taking and interactive play are ideal and simple strategies for establishing reciprocity. Children on the spectrum can be taught appropriate responses to various social situations. For example, they can be taught greetings and farewells. “Please” and “thank you” are good places to start when directing social cues and reciprocity. This helps the child to integrate socially with successful momentum, lowering the subsequent episodes of anxiety driven meltdowns.

Social skill learning is a continual process for the child with autism. It is one that will require the dedicated guidance of his caregivers. Social skills are an evolutionary process for each person; they change with growth and maturity. A typically developing person will take social cues and adjust his or her skills to those receptions. The person with autism will require a guide to interpret and navigate social cues. They also require appropriate responses. Once these are learned, social success is realized.

Intervention Strategies For Autism

An Overview of Intervention Strategies for Individuals with Autism

The most effective treatment for autism to date is education and intervention. There are several intervention styles available for those on the spectrum. The styles of therapy are diversified to address the different needs that are presented in many autism cases. Therapies are different for each client. Many therapeutic plans involve the development of an individual behavior or education plan that specifically caters to each client. The intervention strategies are grouped according to treatment goals and spectrum orientation.

Floortime therapy was developed by Dr. Stanley Greenspan in 1979. Dr. Greenspan advocated a child-led approach. As a play-based therapy, floortime intervention pairs child directed, preferred activities with learning tasks or intentional target goals.  Floortime addresses the deficits that children on the spectrum demonstrate in reciprocal relationships, environmental engagement and communication quality. Floortime therapy involves six stages of integration in a one-on-one setting. Emotional awareness and stages of bonding are especially emphasized in floortime therapy.

In the first stage of floortime therapy, the focus is on establishing an emotional bond with the child. Once the child has demonstrated a level of comfort with the therapist, the focus is transferred to joint attention. Joint attention refers to the pre-communicative ability to track and follow the focus of another person. This is a noted deficit for children on the spectrum. It is also a key link to social skill and communication development.

The second stage of floortime therapy further explores joint attention by encouraging the child’s interest in other people. The specific bond is centered more on the child’s primary caregiver than the therapist. Shared smiles, engagement in child-led preferred activities and joint attention are specifically addressed during this phase.

The third stage of floortime therapy deepens the interactions between the child and the parent or caregiver. Sharing referred activities, exchanging laughs and turn-taking are all components of this mid-level phase of therapy.

The fourth stage extends the communication exchange to emotional expression. Emotions are differentiated and modeled appropriately. Play time and problem solving are incorporated into preverbal language.

Stage five of floortime provides deeper levels of communication for the child. Basic communication is required for basic exchanges. To attain developmental equality with his or her peers, the child must have a medium for communicating thoughts, ideas and impressions.

The final stage establishes logic and functional reasoning for the child. Children on the spectrum typically display a deficit in communication and social skill development. They must be taught these skills in order to be successful learners in other areas.

Another popular therapy for clients with autism is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ABA therapy is the only fully research-backed intervention available for clients with autism. It is versatile for use with children as well as adults. While floortime therapy addresses the internal structures of a person with autism, such as their emotions and perceptions, ABA addresses the external factors, such as environment and reinforcement. ABA does not seek to alter the personhood of the client with autism. ABA manipulates the environment of the person with autism in order to create teaching opportunities.

In ABA therapy, the service provider will restrict access to preferred items or activities in order to produce desired pro-social behaviors or communication efforts from the client with autism. Preferred items and activities are structured in a layered regiment with non-preferred activities, such as hygiene or appropriate communication. Staggering these preferred items or activities to immediately follow the non-preferred (but desired) skill or activity reinforces their successful completion.

ABA therapists seek to promote functional communication, pro-social behavior and independence for their clients. They take regular data to describe the changes in the behavior of the client as they coincide with the changes made to the environment of the client.

Each intervention strategy has value for the client with autism. Many clients receive both types of services at various stages of development. These therapies drastically improve the opportunities and quality of life for the client with autism.

Is there a cure for autism?

Autism Therapists

The Autism Therapist’s Career Process and Compensation Packages

There are many avenues to working in the field of autism therapy. More children are diagnosed with autism every year. The education industry is changing as a result of this growing trend. The most effective treatments available for autism to date are education and therapeutic intervention. Therefore, there is a growing demand for professionals in this field. Interventionists can practice in a variety of capacities.

How to Become an Applied Behavior Analysis?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapists must possess a Bachelor’s Degree and pass several training courses in ABA intervention. They must work under a direct supervisor who holds a Master’s Degree in special education, psychology or human behavior. At least one Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) must supervise all staff members involved in providing services to the client or student with autism.

What does an Applied Behavior Analysis Do?

ABA therapists are employed in multiple settings. In schools, they provide support to teachers and administrative staff tasked with educating students with autism. They assist the school staff with implementing and reinforcing the behavior plan for the students on the spectrum. They also provide direct service support to the students and staff. Some ABA therapists work in the home or residential setting of the client with autism. They provide support services such as behavior intervention, parent or caregiver education, ABA behavior plans and support for implementation. Other ABA therapists provide adaptive skills training to clients with autism. These services are education based and may even be taught in small group settings.

Other autism therapists work with clients prior to formal diagnosis. These clients are often much younger than those receiving ABA services. Floor time therapists provide early intervention for joint attention, connectivity and awareness of others. The diagnostic criterion for autism is partially upon social skill and language development, and is therefore not formally considered until the developmentally appropriate ages of observation. However, there are early indicators which are notably common in many diagnosed cases. When these factors are present, early intervention is often advised. These therapists are recognized as autism therapists.

Autism therapists often pursue Master’s Degrees to become supervisors in their field. Many colleges and universities offer programs which include the Board Certification for Behavior Analysts. These licenses enable a therapist to open his or her own practice. Private practice companies have cropped up across the country in recent years in response to the growing need for services. Autism professionals attend regular trainings and conferences to stay current on the latest developments in treatment and intervention strategies.

How Much do Autism Therapists Make?

Direct service providers who practice autism therapy earn approximately $40,000 per year. The more education a professional obtains, the higher they climb on the pay scale. Master’s Degrees and BCBA licenses are especially high-earning credentials in the field of autism therapy. Supervising therapists and case managers earn approximately $60 per year. Top supervisors and practice owners earn more than $100,000 per year. Top earning professionals typically obtain doctorate level credentials during the course of their career. There is also optimal room for growth for an autism therapist. The services provided to clients with autism are essential, and deserving of excellent compensation.

Autism therapists enjoy a rewarding and productive career. They are the link to order and success for many families of clients with autism. They open the gateways to functional living for many of their clients. They provide necessary tools for living, such as communication and social interaction. Autism therapists are an imperative part of treatment for their clients.

Specialized programs for working adults suit the educational needs of autism therapists. As a developing industry, intervention specialists are in growing demand. Their jobs are constantly evolving. Autism treatment options continually adapt to serve the needs of those in the community. As new treatments become available, therapists are needed to provide these invaluable services.

Various Therapies Available For Autism
1). Chelation therapy for autism
2). Music Therapy For Autism
3). Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy For Autism

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy For Autism

Different theories for the causes of autism have been tested, as well as some potential therapies to either improve or cure the disorder. One theory in particular poses that children with autism have had an experience early on their young lives with encephalitis or some other severe brain injury that went undetected and looked like a simple illness rather than something more complex. This theory does have some potential as a cause, because neurological scans of the brains of autistic children show that there was a source of brain growth alteration at the age when most children start to show signs of the disorder. In conjunction with that theory, a group of research doctors in Pennsylvania decided to try hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) on a group of children and a group of adults to see what effects, if any, the therapy would have on them.

What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy(HBOT)? What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy used for?
Hyperbaric oxygen chambers are sealed tube-like rooms that are filled with pure oxygen. The patient breathes nothing but pure oxygen for a period of time as a therapy session, and after so many therapy sessions another scan of the brain is taken. At that time, any improvements or marked deviations from the original scan prior to treatment allows the researchers to see if A) there is any relevance to the theory of encephalitis or brain injury as a cause for autism, and B) there is any evidence that hyperbaric oxygen therapy may actually help turn the tables in the effects of autism or possibly cure it.

What are the benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
Hyperbaric therapy has been shown to help average people and children who have areas of the brain affected by an aneurism or stroke or a narrowing of the arteries retrieve some functional use of the part of the brain affected. The shadowed areas that appear in their brain scans are obviously reduced after exposure to the chamber and a level of oxygen therapy conducive to their particular malady. It is with this idea in mind that the researchers in the Pennsylvania trial believed hyperbaric therapy might also help children and adults with autism that possibly suffered or definitely suffered a case of encephalitis in infancy.

What are the side effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
The down side to this study is that it was the only one of its kind conducted in 2009. Less than 100 volunteers for the double blind study in Pennsylvania reported immediate improvement to the children with autism after treatment, but the effects were short-lived and no one has conducted any other studies since.

Does private insurance or medicare cover HBOT?
Medicare may or may not cover the treatments if the child receives Medicare as part of their disability benefits. Without insurance footing the bill, the treatments can run up to $1,800 a session, so if parents want to try it, they best be ready to pay for it. Without any other supporting evidence or studies, the 2009 findings were ruled inconclusive/not effective. Parents can put their child at risk on their own to see if hyperbaric treatment helps but it’s ultimately up to them to pay for it and accept the consequences of the choice because it’s not medically founded without another study to back it up.

Ergo, it may or may not work, and the study found that the effects are short lived. The theory has some relevance, but until other studies surrounding hyperbaric oxygen therapy can prove and support the original findings, it only splits parents on two sides of this treatment fence. Those that have tried it say it works, and those that haven’t because of the study itself won’t and are against it.

Most Related Concerns:
1). Is chelation therapy safe for children?
2). Music therapy for autism