Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD is one of the mental health disorders that concern a lot of families. If left untreated or diagnosed, this could be detrimental to a child when he/she grows up into a full-grown adult. Professionals agree that intervention in the early years of a child with autism makes a lot of difference.
Early intervention is highly encouraged for at least two years before a child attends his first day of school. This gives room for the child to prepare himself with enough skills to immerse with other children in the school.
Autism Spectrum Disorder Therapy: An Effective Treatment
Once a child is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the doctor will recommend intervention as soon as possible. Children as young as 6 months can already be diagnosed with ASD and screenings are recommended to achieve the best prognosis. At present, there are more than a few evidence-based therapies that can help children cope with their condition. These are:
- Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)
- Physical Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
- Speech Therapy and Pharmacological Therapy
Each of these treatments is performed and overseen by board-certified therapists.
ABA Therapy aims to change the behaviour of a child which encourages positive over negative behaviours. This is considered the “gold standard” of treatment for children with autism and other conditions related to developmental function.
An ABA therapist, therefore, teaches an autistic child the necessary skills to adapt to life situations for a better quality of life. The therapist may either provide these interventions according to the age of the child, areas of challenge and other concerning factors:
- Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI)
- Pivotal Response Training
- Discrete Trial Teaching
- Early Start Denver Model
Note: Aside from autism treatment, ABA Therapy can also be used to treat dementia, anger issues or borderline personality disorder.
An ABA therapist first provides a functional behavioural assessment on a child, checking strengths, abilities and weaknesses. This initial process is all about interacting with the child and observing behaviour and other skills. Consultation and assessment may be done at home and specific interventions may then be discussed for the child.
The therapist then devices a plan on how to carry out the intervention suited for the child. This usually aligns with the special needs of the child with ASD and the goals to achieve in the treatment. People involved in the plan should know their roles so that the child will have reduced problematic behaviours such as self-injury or tantrums. They should also help improve good communication with the child as well as his other skills.
Related article: 10 Simple Autism Activities to help your Child
Parents, teachers and caregivers are the usual team members of an ABA therapist and working on the same page helps in improving the child’s condition. That is why a plan is crucial prior to treatment. The therapist then trains and teachers the people involved in the treatment and then provides frequent evaluation to check on the progress of the child. Each goal is unique because it depends on the specific needs of a child with autism. The usual end results after ABA therapy are the following:
- Having more focus
- Increased interest in people within their surrounding
- Effective communication with other people
- Reduced self-harm
- Fewer melt-downs or tantrums
Cost of ABA Autism Therapy in Toronto
Autism therapy is a long and tedious process. An ABA therapist usually provides treatment for 40 hours a week for every child. This is what experts recommend although most therapists do 10 to 20 hours every week. Ultimately, the number of hours comes down to the specific needs of a child.
In Toronto, autism therapists charge CAD 24 per hour on average. Factors that influence the cost depend actually on the level of education, experience and geographical location. ABA therapists who are in their early career usually charge around CAD 20 per hour while those who have at least 10 years of experience cost as much as CAD 30 per hour.
A lot of people may wonder why an autism therapist costs a lot and that is because this field is very special and consumes time. Generally, autism therapists focusing on different areas such as speech occupational, physical and pharmacological, cost around the same amount depending on different factors.
These therapists are highly trained and have the utmost patience that other people cannot offer. They work directly with your child and are equipped with education, experience and skills. Because of the high demand for their services, it can be challenging to book a therapist for a consultation.
Autism therapists are important because they give families time to go back to their daily lives and other family members such as the younger or older siblings will be taken care of. Having a child with autism can be tough and disrupt the normal activities of every member of the family. That is why having an experienced professional helps in restoring the balance, little by little.
Cost-effective Ways of Availing Therapy for Children with Autism
If the cost of getting the help of an Autism therapist is challenging for the family, there are options that help fund such professional services. One is insurance. In Toronto, some health insurance plans cover a part of the entire cost. Employees can easily inquire from the human resources department and discuss the possibilities of having insurance take care of a fraction of the therapy expenses for your child.
Related article: Child’s Mental Health: 10 Approved Tips You Need to Know For
Most schools fund therapy for children with autism and it is based primarily on the institution’s initial assessment and evaluation. There are also specialized centers that offer financial help to families who are in need of therapists. At present, the pandemic has made it hard for parents to even have their child assessed for ASD. A cost-effective approach available today is having such services through Telehealth or Teleconsultation services. This only needs a computer and a stable internet connection. With the changing times, anything is possible if you need help with the special needs of your child with ASD.