Controversy Surrounding Treatments for Autism

Currently there is no known cure for autism, but as science and medicine advance there have been new forms of treatment that have created both hope and controversy for patients and the medical community.

There are various rigorous and extensive forms of treatment and therapies for the condition such as biochemical, neurosensory, and behavioral, which are just some of the general approaches to combat the condition.

(Infographic by: Victoria Lore)

ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) therapy is one of the most common and controversial treatments for autism. This therapy focuses on systematically applying interventions in order to improve social behaviors while demonstrating interventions to reasonable degree and that they are based on principles of learning, according to Applied Behavioral Strategies’ website.

ABA involves as much as 40 hours a week of one-on-one therapy which breaks desirable behaviors down into steps and rewards the child for completing each step as they complete it. Dr. Ivar Lovaas, the father of ABA compared first graders with autism and found that those who received the therapy showed larger numbers of inclusion into mainstream school systems.

The pathophysiology of autism has been extensively researched over the last decade. Through this research, new doors have opened for a treatment that is much less invasive than other treatments for autism, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. This is a procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of depression, according to Mayo Clinic. For autism patients, this procedure has an electrophysiological effect, reduces repetitive behaviors, and improves social functioning. Despite its effectiveness, this procedure has caused negative outcomes for some patients.

(Infographic by: Victoria Lore)

According to the New York Times article An Experimental Autism Treatment Cost Me My Marriage, writer of the article John Elder Robison who has Asperger syndrome had his first session of T.M.S. in 2008, in hopes of improving his emotional perceptions of others. The procedure was a success, but had left a lasting negative impact. “Before the T.M.S., I had fantasized that the emotional cues I was missing in my autism would bring me closer to people. The reality was very different,” said Robison. “The signals I now picked up about what my fellow humans were feeling overwhelmed me. They seemed scared, alarmed, worried and even greedy. The beauty I envisioned was nowhere to be found.”

Stem Cell treatment is one of the newest treatments to be used on patients with autism. This treatment obtains stem cells from two of the most potent sources of the body, which are Bone Marrow and Adipose Tissue. These stems cells can be isolated from either or both the sources for faster improvements, according to Advancells. Exploring Mental Health article, a website from Yale University, reported that a recent studies support the claim that stem cell treatment may be an effective treatment for autism patients, but stem cells are still currently being researched as an alternative treatment option with hopes that this research will gain a better understanding to stem cells and autism.



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