If your child has autism you might have already noticed its presence. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can affect the way your child interacts and communicates with others and influence her behavior and interests. The condition manifests itself in a variety of ways and in most affected children the symptoms are visible before the age of three.
Some children with ASD don’t babble or use other sounds even as babies. Once they’re older they might have trouble with nonverbal language, body language, eye contact, and appropriate facial expressions. Some children might not like changes to their routine and even tiny changes may lead to tantrums. Others may keep repeating certain actions like closing and opening doors or arranging things in a line. It is believed that both genetics and the environment could play a role in the development of this disorder. Though we don’t know why, the rates of ASD have been increasing in recent years.1 2
Can Autism Be Cured?
There’s no cure for ASD but a variety of special behavioral and educational programs are available which can help. Your doctor might also prescribe medications to deal with certain symptoms. Since ASD manifests itself differently in each person, you would need to check out which intervention works best for your child. In addition to the conventional educational programs designed for ASD, here are some options that might be able to help you:
Natural, Alternative Tips To Manage Autism
1. Practice Yoga
Yoga has the potential to significantly improve symptoms of ASD. One yoga program designed for ASD incorporated warm-up (e.g., jogging), loosening (e.g., waist back bending), strengthening (e.g. triangular pose, where you stand with your feet apart and your arms raised to the shoulder level and then bend your arms one after the other towards your feet), and calming (e.g., corpse pose, where you lie on your back, your arms relaxed by your sides and your eyes closed) exercises, as well as breathing practices and chanting. Children who participated showed better eye to eye contact, body posture, and sitting tolerance. They were also more receptive to verbal commands. Teachers noted that they were more alert after the sessions. They seemed to enjoy chanting and it improved their ability to imitate oral-facial movement and brought them closer to the therapist. 3
2. Try Homeopathic Remedies
Homeopathy has various remedies that can be effective in dealing with the symptoms of autism. For instance, Ignatia (from the St. Ignatius bean) can be used to treat impatience and intolerance of noise; Causticum (a blend of slaked lime and sulfate of potash) can treat someone who is restless, finds it difficult to concentrate, and repeats a question first before answering; and Kali Carb (Potassium Carbonate) can help someone who is anxious about any change in routine.
Research has shown that homeopathic treatments can result in better social interaction, reduction in anxiety, better eye contact with strangers, an improvement in motor skills, and better communication skills. However, it is important to remember that these treatments are extremely patient-specific and a qualified homeopathic doctor needs to look at the patient to determine what will work for them. 4
3. Turn To Ayurveda
Ayurveda considers autism to be a condition with its roots in a genetic flaw (bija dosha) which can be activated by elements in the environment. Various treatments used in ayurveda try to mitigate the effects of elements that trigger autism. Since, according to ayurveda, a toxin known as ama produced due to impaired digestion can reach the brain and cause damage there, this might include medicines that improve the digestive function.
Medicinal preparations with psychotropic effects may also be used. One three-month ayurvedic treatment program carried out in India for managing autism in children (between the ages of three and sixteen) showed promise. The treatment included taking a medicated ghee (known as Chetasa ghrita which has psychotropic effects) internally; the application of a medicinal paste of an oil known as Vatasani Taila and a powder known as Pancha gandha Choorna (both of which contain several herbs) on the head; and the nasal instillation of a medicated oil known as Ksheera Bala Taila which has country mallow as the main ingredient. Those who underwent the treatment showed improvements in socialization and physical, behavioral, and cognitive problems. Their parents and special educators also mentioned that they appeared to show decreased hyperactivity and less effort seemed to be required to train them in other therapies. 5
4. Go For Music Therapy
Music therapists harness the power of music in a therapeutic relationship to improve the health and well-being of their patients. This therapy may be particularly useful for children with autism. A study that compared improvisational music therapy to toy play sessions found that music therapy was more effective at helping autistic children initiate behaviors that indicated that they were engaged. They also seemed to find the music therapy sessions more joyful and were more responsive to the therapist during these sessions.6 Another study among autistic children between the ages of 6 and 9 who had improvisational music therapy for 10 weeks found that it could help them communicate better.7
5. Check Out Diet And Nutrition
There is some evidence that the use of certain nutritional supplements can have a positive effect on some aspects of autism. For instance, one study found that autistic children with severe behavioral problems showed some improvement in hyperactivity and stereotypy (the constant repetition of an action like body rocking) after oral supplementation with Omega 3 fatty acids.8 These fatty acids are critical for the development of the brain and cannot be manufactured by the body. Fish oils are a good dietary source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Research has also shown that treatment with magnesium and vitamin B6 can improve communication and social interactions in children with autism.9 Do check in with your doctor before taking supplements to make sure that they are safe for you.
If you’re looking after someone with autism, do remember to take care of your emotional and physical health too. Your wellbeing is important not just for your sake but also for the sake of the person you’re caring for. So don’t hesitate to reach out for help when you need it.
|↑1||Autism Spectrum Disorder Fact Sheet National Institutes of Health.|
|↑2||Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). National Health Service.|
|↑3||Radhakrishna, Shantha. “Integrated approach to Yoga therapy for autism spectrum disorder.” PhD diss., 2013.|
|↑4||Rajalakshmi, M. A. “New dimensions in the treatment of autism with homeopathy.” The Internet Journal of Alternative Medicine 7, no. 2 (2009).|
|↑5||Suryawanshi Sandipkumar, R., Shweta V. Musale, and R. Suryawanshi Pradipkumar. “International Journal of Applied Ayurved Research ISSN: 2347-6362 CHILDHOOD AUTISM-AN AYURVEDIC APPROACH.”|
|↑6||Kim, Jinah, Tony Wigram, and Christian Gold. “Emotional, motivational and interpersonal responsiveness of children with autism in improvisational music therapy.” Autism 13, no. 4 (2009): 389-409.|
|↑7||Edgerton, Cindy Lu. “The effect of improvisational music therapy on the communicative behaviors of autistic children.” Journal of music therapy 31, no. 1 (1994): 31-62.|
|↑8||Amminger, G. Paul, Gregor E. Berger, Miriam R. Schäfer, Claudia Klier, Max H. Friedrich, and Martha Feucht. “Omega-3 fatty acids supplementation in children with autism: a double-blind randomized, placebo-controlled pilot study.” Biological psychiatry 61, no. 4 (2007): 551-553.|
|↑9||Mousain-Bosc, M., M. Roche, A. Polge, D. Pradal-Prat, J. Rapin, and J. P. Bali. “Improvement of neurobehavioral disorders in children supplemented with magnesium-vitamin B6.” Magnesium Research 19, no. 1 (2006): 53-62.|