Children who have autism are wonderful and delightful young people. Along with their many strengths, though, a diagnosis of autism can mean your child has behavioral challenges that make communicating, socializing, and coping at school and at home more difficult.
If your child is diagnosed with autism, board-certified pediatrician Rainilda Valencia, MD, of Valencia Pediatrics in Victorville, California, often recommends different behavioral therapies to help treat and manage your child’s disorder. Find out more about what getting behavioral therapy can do to help your autistic child.
Learning more about autism
When your child has been diagnosed with autism, it means they have a type of developmental delay that impacts how their brain works. Autism is an intricate disorder that can impact your child in a variety of ways, in different degrees of severity.
Autistic children can have challenges with communicating, gross and fine motor movements, processing sounds and sights, and developing relationships.
These difficulties can lead to behavior challenges, such as having difficulty understanding or responding to communication appropriately, moving or acting in ways that others find socially odd, and meltdowns from stress.
Dr. Valencia and her team diagnose autism with a comprehensive developmental screening, which can be completed in a child as young as nine months.
What is behavioral therapy, and how does it treat autism?
Behavioral therapies are types of treatments that help reduce instances of the unwanted behaviors caused by your child’s autism, while positively reinforcing behaviors that are desired. In many children with autism, behavioral therapies help improve their behaviors, increase their confidence, and lower their stress levels.
There are various different types of evidence-based behavioral therapies for autism. These are some of the most common therapies Dr. Valencia might recommend your child get.
Applied behavioral analysis (ABA)
ABA is a popular type of autism therapy that works by helping your child develop new skills with positive reinforcement. First, your child is evaluated to determine what behaviors would be helpful for them to learn or stop.
Behaviors that can be targeted using ABA include developing social skills, communication, and self-care. Your child’s ABA instructor tracks their progress so their program can be modified as needed, and you can see clear gains in their skills over time.
When your child is enrolled in ABA treatment, you’ll also learn how to work with them to improve behaviors between sessions.
Occupational therapy is a special therapy customized to help your child with their activities of daily living (ADLs). Depending on your child’s needs, the personalized program can range from helping your child eat or get dressed by themselves, social behaviors, and managing at school and at home.
Social skills classes
Social skills classes help your child learn skills and behaviors that help them with everyday social interactions and developing social relationships. These classes can take place individually or as part of a group with a trained therapist.
Therapeutic horseback riding
In a therapeutic horseback riding lesson, your child rides a horse with an instructor specifically trained to work with children with special needs. These lessons can help your child improve gross and fine motor movements, social skills, and emotional regulation.
If your child has challenging behaviors because of autism, behavioral therapy can help them make significant progress. To find out more about behavioral therapy for autism or to get a referral or diagnosis for your child, call to make an appointment at Valencia Pediatrics today.