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  • Writer's pictureLaKeshia Y. Wells, M.Psych, BCBA, LBA

The Benefits of Combining Therapies for Children with ASD

Updated: Dec 29, 2023

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is increasing in prevalence as the years go by, making it incredibly important to provide families with access to the right treatments. Combining therapies, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) with speech, occupational, and physical therapies, have been found to be highly successful in helping children with ASD reach their maximum potential. From developing communication and social skills to increasing independence and self-care abilities, the benefits of combining ABA with other therapies are plentiful. This combination of therapies, when implemented correctly, can provide children with ASD the opportunity to reach their full potential.


Benefits of Combined Therapies for Children with ASD

Combining therapies, such as ABA with speech, occupational, and physical therapies, have been shown to be very effective in helping children with ASD reach their full potential. This combination of therapies, when implemented correctly, can provide children with ASD the opportunity to reach their full potential. These therapies aim to improve areas such as communication, language and social skills, motor skills, daily living skills, and attention span. Additionally, children can receive more individualized treatment, allowing for greater customization and tailored interventions that best meet their needs when treatments are combined.


Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a type of therapy that is often used in combination with other therapies to help children with ASD. ABA focuses on positive reinforcement and rewards to help children learn new skills by making positive associations with specific behaviors. ABA therapists work closely with caretakers and families to create individualized treatment plans, allowing for greater customization and tailored interventions that best meet the needs of their child. This combination of therapies, when implemented correctly, can provide children with ASD the opportunity to reach their full potential.


Speech Therapy

Speech therapy can be helpful in treating a wide range of issues in children with ASD. It can be used to improve communication skills, help with eating disorders, and manage anxiety. It is also helpful in improving social skills. A child’s speech therapist will work with them regularly to provide them with opportunities to learn and practice their skills. One popular therapy used to improve speech skills in children is augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). This type of therapy provides children with ASD the opportunity to express their thoughts in a variety of ways. It can include things like pictures, symbols, or keyboarding devices. These tools assist children with ASD in communicating by giving them the opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings more easily.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy can be used to treat children with ASD who are struggling with motor skills or self-help skills. It can also be used to help children with eating disorders. An occupational therapist can help a child improve their fine motor skills, gross motor skills, self-care skills, adaptive skills, and social skills. One popular therapy used to improve a child’s motor skills is visual motor integration (VMI). This therapy is used to improve visual scanning and visual perception. It can help children with ASD improve their hand skills, visual skills, and eye movement. Another popular therapy used to improve a child’s self-help skills is sensory-based interventions. This therapy can help children with ASD improve their ability to focus, reduce stress, and be more flexible. It can be used to help with eating disorders and improve a child’s ability to get dressed and groomed.


Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can be used to treat a wide range of issues in children with ASD. It can be used to improve motor skills, coordination, balance, strength, endurance, and flexibility. It can also be used to help children with feeding and swallowing disorders. One popular therapy used to improve coordination and motor skills in children is proprioceptive and visual-motor integration (PVMI). This therapy is used to help children with ASD improve their balance, strength, and fine and gross motor skills. It can be used to help children with feeding and swallowing disorders improve their abilities to chew, swallow, and maintain proper positions during eating.


Tailoring the Treatment Plan

When combining therapies such as ABA with speech, occupational, and physical therapies, caretakers must make sure they are tailoring the treatment plan to their child’s specific needs and goals. A good therapist will be open to suggestions from parents and caretakers and will make every effort to incorporate their ideas and suggestions into the treatment plan. A therapist who is unwilling to be flexible and modify the treatment plan according to each child’s needs may be more concerned with treating all kids the same way, rather than tailoring the treatment to the needs of the child. When choosing a therapist, it is important to find one who is willing to work collaboratively with parents and caretakers to create a treatment plan that best meets their child’s needs. Parents and caretakers should try to be as involved as possible in their child’s treatment. They should also make sure they understand the goals and objectives of each therapy, so they know what to expect and can provide the therapist with any feedback they might have.


Challenges of Implementing Combined Therapies

Combining therapies such as ABA with speech, occupational, and physical therapies can be challenging, but it is important to remember that these difficulties are a normal part of the treatment process. Families should not feel discouraged if their child’s progress is slower than they would like or if they experience setbacks. Remember, everyone progresses at their own pace. There are many factors that may make implementing combined therapies challenging, including the number of therapies implemented at once, scheduling, and the amount of time each therapy takes. Families should make sure they have enough time to dedicate to each therapy and that they are not trying to do too much with their child. It is important to remember that it is better to do a few therapies well than many therapies poorly. Families can also benefit from seeking out support and resources from other parents who are going through the same thing.


Conclusion

When it comes to therapies that are meant to benefit children on the autism spectrum, a combination of therapies such as ABA with speech, occupational and physical therapies has been demonstrated to be extremely successful. It is essential to keep in mind that these therapies may not be successful for every single child, yet for numerous kids, this mixture can provide them with the opportunity to reach their greatest potential. As a parent, it is important to research each therapy thoroughly before deciding which ones will work best for your child. By taking the time to carefully consider the options, you can ensure that the combination of therapies you choose will have the greatest positive impact on your child's development.

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