Alternative Therapies in Autism

Autism is characterized by impaired verbal and non-verbal communication, repetitive movement and behavior, and social interaction. Research has shown that 30-90 percent of autistic children have had some sort of alternative therapy. Some of the alternative therapies have shown to be beneficial.

At least half of all children with autism experience sleep disorders. Melatonin, which is a natural hormone, helps to reduce insomnia and improve sleep. Parents of autistic children also noticed an improvement of daytime behavior and that their own stress level improved. A lack of quality sleep has shown that the social difficulties and repetitive behaviors worsen.

Omega-3 fatty acids are a popular nutritional supplement and are safe to use. Omega-3 is essential for the function and the development of the brain. In some small studies, Omega-3 has shown some improvement in repetitive behavior and socialization. Although the studies were positive, the recommended dose varies.

Nutritional supplements, at any age are beneficial. Autistic children can be deficient in one or more vitamins. A multivitamin in a moderate dose can help alleviate the deficiency. A small study of Vitamin B-12 shows promising effects on the child’s language and communication skills. Several parents have used probiotics for the relief of gastrointestinal upsets which are common in autistic children.

Other supplements that have shown positive results are pancreatic enzymes, magnesium, calcium, aloe vera and colloidal silver.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) has also been used as an alternative therapy. The rationale behind HBOT is to deliver 100% oxygen in a pressurized container so the lungs can deliver more oxygen throughout the body that will stimulate stem cells and growth factor which aid in healing. More studies are needed in this therapy.

Proteins and Peptides in combination act on the central nervous system and causes the cells to act normally and boosts the immune system, produces neuronal maturation and new electrical contacts.

Nutrition can also play an important role in autism. One diet that seems to be beneficial is a gluten-free, casein-free diet. The idea behind this diet is to eliminate toxins and chemicals that could be toxic to their brain. Improvement in behavior and social skills were reported by parents that used this diet.

Behavior Modification Therapy is used very frequently with autistic children. Some focus on the behaviors and ways to reduce the negative ones by learning new skills. Others teach them how to act appropriately in social situations and other means of communication. Most children do not outgrow autism, but with the proper teaching and guidance they can learn to function well. Family therapy involves all those living with the autistic child and showing them ways to approach interaction in a healthy manner.

Creative therapy can help reduce the sensitivity to sound and touch by using art and music therapy.

Chelation therapy is a means of removing mercury and other heavy metals from the blood. There are no proven studies that this therapy is of any benefit.

Acupuncture has been around for a long time and is used for many conditions. It is thought that acupuncture helps reduce the symptoms of autism.

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