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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Alternate Therapies Help Children with Autism Recover

Most parents that have a child with autism or related disorder are presented with the same treatment options over and over. While these programs and interventions do help, there are other non-traditional therapies that yield positive results and have the added benefit of a little fun!

Depending upon your child’s interest, you can find a professional to administer therapy related to that interest. Music therapy, art therapy, therapeutic horse-back riding, even surfing and swimming with dolphins are all alternative ways to teach and treat children with autism.

The differences between these and traditional therapy (speech, occupational and physical) may seem obvious; it’s the similarities that need to be discussed.

Let’s say your child is learning how to start conversations. During speech your child will work on forming words, expanding words into sentences, using appropriate greetings and will learn conversation starters. The exact same goals and skills can be worked on during any of the alternative therapies mentioned above. There is the similarity and one that is constantly misunderstood.

Many parents have the idea that only traditional therapy teaches traditional skills. Parents may wonder: Why in the world does my child need to learn how to surf? Perhaps he doesn’t, but if swimming, water and movement is enjoyable to them, can you think of a better motivator or reward? In this example, instead of earning a sticker on a speech therapist’s chart for ‘good talking’, your child will get to hop on a surf board and the ride the waves as a reward – what a significant difference.

This is why it is important to remember your child is a child first and the disability comes second. If a child is drawn to music, incorporate it in their programming. If you have an idea for alternative therapy but are unable to find a provider, consider contacting a professional in that field and explain your situation.

Parents are often presently surprised at the tremendous feedback received by non-therapists. A woman who offers private art lessons may be more then willing to work on talking or fine motor skills during lessons – in this case, you’ve taken a lesson or activity and modified to also provide therapy. The added bonus is your child will learn skills outside of therapeutic goals also.

Surprisingly, cost can be less then that of traditional therapy and alternative programs may be more available. Every provider will have their own fees, and if financing the therapy is a challenge, be sure to discuss alternate payment options with the provider. Perhaps you can volunteer to decrease cost, use a sliding scale, or refer others to off-set the out of pocket cost. Parents of children with autism are quite creative and innovative, and this situation is no exception.

Parents have also been able to incorporate alternative therapy approaches into mainstream educational settings. Simply put, if a child does well in art therapy, art projects should be used as reward, motivators and teaching tools throughout the child’s day. This is near common sense, as the more interested a child is in a topic, the more they will attend and contribute.

Autism affects every part of life and, as such, can limit social and recreational activities. This is one way to offer your child the best of both worlds and to make sure you’re always moving forward. Be creative and be persistent and you will find a niche your child fits in and loves. You never know, maybe you have the next Picasso sitting right in front of you.

More information about some of the most popular treatments can be fount at


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