3 Alternative Treatments to Help Children with Autism Communicate
Communication problems and lack of proper social interactions plague most autistic children throughout their lifetime, issues that parents would love to solve even for a moment, naturally. Artificial drugs may have their positive effects, but not every child will respond well to their chemical makeup. Even Melatonin, often revered by parents for its calming effects and their resulting in a good night's sleep, has many a side effect as well that might not bode well for your kids.
Natural treatments for Autism that have shown immense promise are the use of the hormone oxytocin as a nasal spray, yoga therapy and playing different types of sports.
The Oxytocin Nasal Spray
The love hormone known as oxytocin in the form of a nasal spray has shown immense promise in helping children with autism. It seems to hold some promise in "curing" the disorder, which would allow for children born on the spectrum to lead normal lives. A single dose of oxytocin administered through a nasal spray has been found to help autistic children process social information and enhance their brain activity. That is amazing news, particularly since the hormone is utterly natural in itself and exists within our bodies already.
Parents, of course, would respond to this with two extremes. I have seen how some support groups have banned talk about cures in general. Autistic children are not broken, merely different. To cure something, it needs to be broken first. However, if we said that this nasal spray does not cure, but merely helps in a child's daily functioning, I'm sure most parents would agree they have just stumbled onto a miracle. Anything that might help make both a child's and his or her parents' lives easier is considered as such by me as well. After all, it's rather frustrating to miss out on many happy events because the over-stimulation brings on meltdowns, far different than tantrums.
What is Oxytocin?
The love hormone has shown great promise in battling many a problem, including:
- Helping shyness
- Keeping couples close and loving
- Enhancing memory of happy faces
- Relieving stress
- Smoothing over depression
Headaches are no excuse for denying a partner sex because of this hormone, but the negative emotions it may also bring about might be due cause. Furthermore, studies on oxytocin pertaining to helping autistic individuals has been around for about a decade now, constantly popping up in the news once every short while.
Yale University has found that a nasal spray with oxytocin is able to help children diagnosed on the spectrum, whether Asperger's, classic, Rhett's or PDD. All of these are currently grouped under a single category of Autism Spectrum Disorder. The original story was covered by EmaxHealth's Deborah Mitchell, with a short introduction of the study at the university.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted with 17 autistic children and adolescents between the ages of 8 and 16.5, randomly administered either the hormone infused or regular nasal sprays while they faced completing a task that involved social judgement. Brain regions for reward and emotional recognition responded well to the oxytocin, normalizing the brain for the duration while affecting areas that normally are the culprits behind social communication and understanding deficits. As such, the brain responded more to social stimuli than inanimate objects while the spray was administered.
Where social bonds are quite difficult to establish between autistic children and their teachers or therapists, yoga therapy seems to tackle those problems rather efficiently and provide a safe environment in which a combination of poses, breathing and deep relaxation facilitate social interaction, provide sensory integration, increase the child's overall health, and aid the development of their body awareness and concentration, particularly if autism is also combined with ADHD symptoms.
Furthermore, yoga helps with building up muscle tone, improving coordination and helping with motor skills. If a child with autism lacks development in either of these areas, chances are that slef-esteem will also be low, frustrations high and meltdowns frequent. Nothing like strengthening the body as a whole while relaxing the mind to do the trick!
Different Types of Sport Play
Yoga is only one form of sport that a child may take up. Vigorous sports with lots of running, jumping, and coordination are highly recommended by researchers who have found that motor skill deficits are directly correlated with one’s ability to move seamlessly in social circles, make friends, understand facial cues and other body language, etc. As such, maximum motor skill honing can provide the maximum results in helping children communicate with their peers, teachers, therapists and even strangers.
It is common knowledge that if a child is unable to keep up with the rest of the team, he or she will often retreat into a protective circle to protect him or herself from the onslaught of taunts, jeers and unwanted negative attention. It is no wonder that autistic children who can walk, talk, sit, run, play and move about normally have fewer communication and social problems than those who lack motor skills. Not only would they be lagging behind, but their disabilities make them prime targets for the average bullies.
Biking, running, swimming, soccer, basketball, baseball, and horseback riding are all great sports to have your autistic children involved in. The more they learn, the better they hone their motor skills, the more likely it will be that they will confidently communicate with the rest of the lot.
Image Source: Hepingting-Flickr