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ASD Therapies & Medications

Therapist observes autistic child

The range of home-based and school-based treatments and interventions for ASD can be overwhelming, and we assist in determining an individualized treatment plan for your child based on his or her needs. The goal of treatment is to maximize your child's ability to function by reducing ASD symptoms and supporting development and learning. Treatment options may include:

  • Behavior therapies. Children with developmental disorders, especially those with symptoms consistent with ASD, often benefit from very structured behavior management programs. Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) is a form of behavior therapy and is considered the “standard approach” for treating individuals with ASD. ABA addresses several areas (e.g., functional communication skills, academic skills, behavior management, social skills, adaptive skills). Though children don't always outgrow ASD symptoms, they may learn to function well. Therefore, referrals to various treatment providers such as ABA specialists should be expected.

  • Educational therapies. Children with ASD often respond well to highly structured educational programs. Successful programs often include a team of specialists and a variety of activities to improve social skills, communication and behavior. If your child is attending public school, an Individualized Education Program may be suggested. Also, preschool children who receive intensive, individualized behavioral interventions often show good progress. Dr. Fox may refer your child to the special needs preschool program within your school district for further assessment to determine whether he or she would benefit from such services. This is discussed with each family beforehand.

  • Family therapies. Parents and other family members can learn how to play and interact with their children in ways that promote social interaction skills, manage problem behaviors, and teach daily living skills and communication.

  1. Many children with ASD have feeding issues or GI concerns. Dr. Fox may recommended that your child make an appointment with a nutritionist who is familiar with individuals with developmental disabilities or contact the Emory University or Marcus Autism Center Feeding Disorders Clinic to receive an appointment for consultation regarding their current diet.

  2. Many children with ASD usually have difficulty with receiving and responding to sensory stimuli (e.g., sounds may seem louder; lights brighter; smells stronger). Your child may benefit from receiving services by an occupational therapist with experience in ASD and who is trained in Sensory Integration (SI) therapy. Occupational therapy can be helpful in improving fine-motor skills as well as teaching complex motor planning and motor control necessary for performing fine motor tasks and engaging in play and leisure activities.

  • Social skills training also may be recommended as many children benefit from participating in a social skills group in order to improve their style of interaction with peers. Such groups offer specific training in the areas of effective communication, nonverbal communication skills, self-confidence, relationship development, coping skills, using impulse control and anger management, and solving conflict.

  • Another recommended treatment is Floortime therapy. Floortime is based on the assumption that children expand their circles of communication by meeting them at their developmental level and building on their strengths. Floortime works to improve developmental skills, emotional regulation, and communication.

  • Medications. No medication can improve the core signs of ASD, but certain medications can help control symptoms. For example, antidepressants may be prescribed for anxiety, and antipsychotic drugs are sometimes used to treat severe behavioral problems. Other medications may be prescribed if your child is hyperactive.

  • Speech and Language services commonly is recommended to help increase your child's expressive and receptive language abilities, as well as develop pragmatic language. Through an increase in his or her expressive vocabulary and social communication, your child may be able to communicate his or her needs more effectively, decrease his or her level of frustration, and improve peer relationships.

Managing other medical conditions

Children with autism spectrum disorder may also have other medical issues, such as epilepsy, sleep disorders, limited food preferences or stomach problems. We will assist and support you and your child on how to best manage these conditions together by providing coordination of care and various referrals within the community to address all of their needs.

Jaymie L. Fox, Psy.D. is a Georgia licensed psychologist who has worked with the pediatric population for over 20 years in a variety of clinical settings. Dr. Fox’ primary specialty focuses on the assessment of neurodevelopmental disorders, including Autism Spectrum Disorder, as well as neurocognitive deficits secondary to other acute and chronic medical or genetic conditions.

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