Leah Drysdale AI Assisted
Autism is a complex condition that impacts each individual differently. While there is no singular cure, there are many paths to supporting those with autism to live happy and fulfilling lives. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the holistic and integrative approaches that can be helpful.
Some of the holistic solutions that show promise include:
Dietary changes and supplements: Many individuals with autism have underlying gastrointestinal issues and food sensitivities. Working with a nutritionist knowledgeable about autism can help uncover problem foods and the potential benefits of an improved diet, vitamins, and supplements. The “gut-brain connection” is an area of increasing focus. Probiotics are healthy gut bacteria that can potentially help with gastrointestinal issues and overall digestion. Studies show probiotics may reduce irritability and promote gut health. Omega-3 helps with boosting focus while reducing anxiety and hyperactivity in those with autism. Curcumin, an antioxidant compound found in turmeric, also can assist with anxiety and hyperactivity as well as improve sociability. Low vitamin D levels are very common in those with autism. Supplementing vitamin D can help with supporting immune function, mood, and communication skills.
It’s important to consult with holistic doctors before taking any dietary supplements. They can advise on safe dosing and potential interactions. Also, familiarizing yourself by reading the bottles of dietary supplements is essential. Monitoring progress is key to finding what works best for each individual.
Behavioral and communication therapies: Communication therapies help those with autism by assisting with comprehension of verbal and nonverbal communications that are used by typicals. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) structured therapy uses rewards to reinforce positive behaviors and reduce problematic ones. ABA can improve communication, social skills, attention, and more. It requires extensive training and should be overseen by a board-certified behavior analyst. Addressing verbal and nonverbal communication is essential. Speech therapists work on language production, understanding social cues, holding conversations, using communication devices, and more. Occupational therapy helps develop life skills for play, school, and home. Occupational therapists may improve fine motor skills, sensory processing, coordination, and self-care abilities like dressing, grooming, and feeding. For higher functioning individuals, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can build emotional regulation, coping strategies, and problem-solving skills. This type of talk therapy reframes unhelpful thought patterns. On the more technological side, Speech Generation Devices – Electronic tablets and keyboards allow nonverbal individuals to communicate. Text-to-speech apps provide a voice. This technology fosters independence and social interaction.
Alternative medicine: There are alternative methods of medicating that are options for those with autism. Multiple studies show that acupuncture can significantly decrease agitation, tantrums, and emotional outbursts in those with autism. Treatments often target points known to calm the nervous system. Acupuncture may alleviate aggressive behaviors like hitting, biting, or scratching in autistic children. Controlled trials report improvement in violence and conduct issues. Some studies note acupuncture therapy reduces hyperactive behavior and fidgeting while improving attention span.
Yoga and meditation can support relaxation and focus. Yoga also builds body awareness. Many with autism struggle with proprioception (body awareness) and coordination. Yoga helps connect the mind to the body and improves balance, posture, and fine motor skills.
Essential oils can also be a holistic solution for those with autism. Certain scents affect different parts of the body. Lavender and chamomile calm the body and can help with relaxation and sleep. Peppermint activates the mind and can boost alertness when needed. Rosemary has clarifying properties that can help combat brain fog. Frankincense has an elevating effect on mood and assists with reducing hyperactivity and boosting focus.
The path for each person with autism is unique. Being open to new therapies while carefully assessing progress allows families to find the holistic solutions that make the biggest difference in their lives.