Autism: Early Signs And Complementary Therapies

There are many uncertainties around Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), including what causes autism and what the best treatments for autism are. Regardless, it is important that parents and people caring for children understand the signs and symptoms of ASD and get help as soon as possible to find the treatment that works best for each child.

A person with autism typically has the following difficulties:

  • Interacting socially with others
  • Communicating effectively
  • A tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors

The symptoms and severity of autism vary widely from person to person. It may be relatively mild and almost unnoticeable on one end of the spectrum.

On the other end of the spectrum autism can be severe, interfering with a person’s daily life and causing difficulties with communication and repetitive behavior.


Early Signs Of Autism

Doctors can screen for autism symptoms in children as young as one year of age. Becoming familiar with the typical developments and milestones children should reach at certain ages will help you to spot the red flags.



If these red flags are present, the child may be at risk of having autism.

Guide To Milestones

Here are common reactions and milestones for babies and toddlers at certain ages for healthy development:


6 Months

  • Joyful expressions and big smiles.
  • Mimicking sounds, smiles, and other facial expressions.

12 Months

  • Babbling continuously.
  • Mimicking gestures like pointing, showing, reaching, and waving

16 Months

Starting to say words and also understanding what they’re saying

24 Months

Starting to say meaningful two-word phrases.


If the child has a loss of speech, babbling, or social skills at any age, it may be a red flag. If you have any concerns about your child’s progress or behavior, make sure you speak with your doctor as soon as possible.

Challenges Of Autistic People

Here are more details about the challenges people with autism often face.


Social Challenges


People with autism often have a difficult time engaging with others. They don’t always have the ability to show or interpret gestures and facial expressions. They may also have a difficult time to regulate their emotions, often resulting in outbursts or even episodes of aggression.


Communication Challenges


Children with autism often learn to speak later than usual, they may express themselves in an unfamiliar way, and have difficulty forming meaningful sentences. Since they find it difficult to display or interpret body language and tone of voice, it can often result in miscommunication.

Repetitive Behavior


Repetitive actions may include rocking, jumping, hand-flapping, twirling, arranging objects obsessively, or repeating  sounds, words, and phrases. They may often become upset when someone  disrupts the order.

5 Complementary Approaches To Therapy

Many complementary therapies can help to reduce symptoms and make life easier for people with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

1. Art Therapy


Art helps us to express ourselves creatively. It can develop imagination and improve communication and social skills in people with autism. Art therapy will typically include different materials, like play dough, pencils, pastels, finger paint, and craft materials like string and fabric.

Many people with autism find it easier to communicate their thoughts and feelings through a visual medium. Art therapy also helps better to regulate emotions, senses, and behavior.

2. Music Therapy


People with autism are usually very sensitive to music. They often have perfect pitch or learn to play instruments exceptionally well. Sometimes children with autism have trouble speaking, but not when singing. Hence, their speech can be developed through the help of music.

3. Using Dogs In Therapy


There are many benefits of using a dog in treatment:

  • Dogs provide companionship and support.
  • A child’s behavior can be influenced by commanding a dog.
  • A dog provides safety for the child.
  • Having a dog can teach responsibility.
  • Dogs can comfort children when they’re upset.
  • Having a dog around can lower the child’s frustration and aggression levels which will have a positive effect on their behavior.
  • Reduce social stress and help them to participate in activities.

4. Swim Therapy


Water therapy can help children with autism to become more self-confident. Swimming with a group promotes better social and interpersonal skills.

5. Sensory Integration


People with autism are often over or under stimulated by their environment. Sensory integration therapy involves placing a child in a room specially designed to stimulate and challenge all of their senses. A therapist works closely with the child to encourage them to play and move around the room.

Examples of activities a therapist will integrate include the following:

  • Dancing to music.
  • Balancing exercises.
  • Hitting and swinging balls.
  • Swinging in a hammock.
  • Crawling through objects.
  • Touching objects of different textures.

Autism Spectrum Disorders are usually lifelong conditions. With early intervention and therapies, the symptoms can be reduced. Talk to your doctor or therapist about possible treatments. Remember that treatments should be fun and directed by the person with autism whenever possible.