Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects an estimate of 1 in 59 children, with boys having a higher likelihood than girls (4 times).
On the treatment side, more people are resorting to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for autism. Approximately 50 to 75 of autistic children have been or are likely to be subjected to some form of CAM.
That just shows how widespread these alternative treatments for autism are.
But, how effective are they?
There isn’t much research to ascertain the usefulness and safety of these treatments. But, that is not to say they don’t work.
They do! Only that the evidence of this isn’t rooted in extensive research but are for a larger part, anecdotal.
That means you need to be cautious when trying out these treatments. Here are a few ways in how to go about it:
- Try to look up information about the effectiveness of the method you’re settling on. It’s little, but it will still help.
- Consider the cost. The last thing you want to do is forking out a serious amount of cash only for the alternative medicine for autism to have no effect.
- Most importantly, talk to your doctor about the alternative therapies you’re considering. He/she may be in a better position to advise you accordingly.
That said, have a look at these alternative treatments below.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 is a group of fats vital to brain development and function.
Naturally, they occur in some types of fish (herring, marlin, sardines) and plants (walnuts, soybean oil, canola oil). Supplements are available in cases where natural sources aren’t easily accessible.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to tone down symptoms of autism. For instance, in clinical trials, autistic children who took supplements of these fatty acids showed a general increase in social communication and exhibited less hyperactivity.
Eliminating certain nutrients from the diet of autistic children has been found to be effective in improving their general status – the nutrients here being gluten and casein.
Gluten is a protein found in cereals while casein is found in dairy products. Both of these are associated with digestive issues. In addition, they cause drug-addiction-like effects to the brain, making an ASD patient to be generally aggressive, sleepy, and absent-minded.
It is recommended that you remove these two from the diet one at a time and monitor the situation for a period of one to three months. Improvements can be noted within this time.
Chelation therapy is employed specifically in eliminating heavy metals from the body. A number of chemicals are administered which combine with the targeted metals, making it easier for them to be removed.
While this method is fronted as an autism alternative treatment, proof of metals being connected in any way to autism is lacking. Therefore, the method is not a worthwhile try.
In fact, chelation therapy is potentially harmful, its dire effects being heart problems, seizures, and damage to body organs. Among all the alternative therapies for autism, this is definitely the one to avoid.
Relaxation Techniques As Alternative Treatments for Autism
They help an autistic individual calm down in situations where they are stressed or get suddenly agitated. These techniques are also of great help in instances of anxiety.
This natural autism treatment works by giving the individual control over both their body and emotions. Some of these techniques include:
- Daily exercises
- Use of fidget objects
- Deep pressure massage
- Breathing deeply
Among a host of others.
Auditory Integration Training Therapy
It is aimed at helping autistic patients to tell apart different sounds, with a special focus on the brain.
This treatment comes in several kinds, including Berard Method, the Samonas Sound Therapy, the Listening Program, and the Tomatis Method.
In this treatment, a patient is made to listen to special sounds via special hearing equipment. The devices make some sounds more pronounced while toning down others at the same time.
Probiotics are oral consumption bacteria meant to introduce certain missing microbiome in the gut of autistic individuals.
The lack of these bacteria is responsible for a number of intestinal conditions in some children with an autism spectrum disorder. They include loose stool and food allergies.
So, for autism cases bearing a connection to gastrointestinal anomalies, probiotics can help quell the symptoms by targeting the missing or defective bacteria.
Even more encouraging is the fact that this alternative treatment has no side effects.
CBD oil for autism has been found to have varying degrees of effectiveness in treating autism-related symptoms.
In a one study, children treated with a high concentration of CBD oil exhibited a general improvement as far as communication and anxiety were concerned.
Other troubling symptoms of ASD, such as aggression, self-harm tendencies, and compulsions, were found to be subdued by the continued use of CBD oil.
Melatonin is a hormone manufactured naturally by our bodies by the pineal glands and plays a role in affecting sleep.
For autism, the patients face constant sleep-related problems due to either the production of melatonin being tampered with or the melatonin cell receptors being defective.
Appropriate doses of melatonin have been shown to improve sleep in autistic children.
Music therapy is a vital learning medium employing music and accompanying involvements between the teacher and the learner to pass on certain targeted skills in the case of autistic patients being better interactions with others.
That is through teaching social interactions and verbal communication in particular.
This autism alternative treatment is based on the fact that the brain processes words and music in different regions and hence songs have more bearing an individual suffering from ASD than mere words.
Sensory Integration Therapy
Sensory integration therapy aims at controlling the brain’s response to touch, sight, movement, and light – all of which give autistic individuals a hard time to process.
Studies show an improvement in a number of autism-linked symptoms such as communication, coordination, and social interactions.
These are just some of the alternative treatments for autism. As already mentioned, they can be effective.
But, there are limited studies to back up the various claims of their effectiveness; hence, a need for precautions.
It’s also important to note that each one of these holistic treatments for autism produces varying results in different people. Some may even fail completely to effect any positive change in some patients, but help a ton of others.