Alternative Eibi Treatments & Preventions to ABA for Children with Autism
Here are a number of alternative treatments to ABA. Here are top three treatments that help reduce core symptoms of autism:
1. Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)
ESDM uses electroencephalography which involves electrodes being put on the scalp to gauge electrical activity in the brain. Researchers learned that kids participating in ESDM, together with normally-developing children, paid more attention to faces than to toys, while autistic kids in other treatment programs did not.
This finding is significant since the chief problem of autism is the inability to relate to other people and learn from the social world. Researchers explained that normal brain patterns after being treated with the Denver Model, were related to progress in the kids’ social behavior.
Researchers studied 48 kids aged 18 to 30 months with ASD. They assigned the children randomly to get either two years of conventional therapies or two years of ESDM therapy in their communities. The control group received treatments ranging from speech and occupational therapists, early-childhood development centers, to ABA. Both groups received comparable number of hours of therapy per week.
Though researchers would not use the word “recovery,” they reported toddlers who participated in ESDM demonstrated more improvement in language, intelligence, autistic symptoms, and daily living skills than those receiving conventional treatments.
2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a powerful method for addressing cognitive behavioral issues of people who frequently get stuck in negative patterns of thinking and responding in ways that are not always positive, partly due to filtering everything that occurs via a “meaning-making system” which is skewed or inaccurate. Thus, one manner to modify people’s behavior or feelings is to target badly distorted thoughts they may have about themselves. This helps them alter the way they interpret new situations, how they feel regarding those situations, and ultimately how they react to them. It’s an effective approach and has been successful in treating several conditions, from depression, anxiety, panic disorder, to post-traumatic stress disorder.
There are different CBT variations, but many share common elements, which include a goal-directed, structured approach which is time-limited, often taking 12 to 16 sessions. Because the therapy is conducted according to a certain plan, goal, limited time frame in which to fulfill it, and does not delve deeply into the past, but concentrates on the present, CBT’s effectiveness is measurable.
With a therapist’s assistance, the person is encouraged to challenge his beliefs and immediate thoughts through a number of techniques. He might use self-talk for coaching himself through a complex situation, replacing intentionally negative thoughts with more positive ones.
Another important component of CBT is psychoeducation, which means teaching someone about his condition. Whatever is the condition, it’s important that the person understand why he has been experiencing so many problems; how to know when the condition is impacting him; and how to stop it.
Can ASD Patients Use CBT?
In a study published in 2012 analyzed the cognitive skills of autistic kids and compared them to those of normal children. These autistic children showed that they had the skills needed for CTB in nearly all instances. They could distinguish feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and work on changing their current thoughts. Their most challenging area was in identifying emotions.
3. Sensory Integration Therapy (SI)
Jean Ayres, Ph.D, an occupational therapist and licensed clinical psychologist developed a theory she called sensory integration. By observing kids with learning disabilities, she noted that they frequently experience perceptual, sensory, and motor difficulties, and started to suspect that they had an inability to process properly and integrate sensory information. Two researchers write: “She theorized that the behavior and learning problems were in part, due to faculty integration of sensory information and inability of higher centers to modulate and regulate lower brain sensory-motor centers.”
The theory is based on the belief that you may alter the brain by modifying experience. So if a person shows poor sensory integration, you may provide sensory experiences which will improve not only sensory integration but overall functioning. Autistic people are known to experience a great array of sensory-related challenges, and they appear to be failing to process both the material and social world in usual, normal ways.
Though there exists hardly any evidence-based research to definitely support the use of SI therapy, based on the successful experiences of practitioners and parents, it is broadly used in treating people with ASD.