A Helpful Guide to Commonly Used Autism Therapies

A Helpful Guide to Commonly Used Autism Therapies


If you've recently received an autism diagnosis for your child, it's likely that you're experiencing a plethora of intense emotions. Additionally, you may find yourself at a pivotal juncture, facing significant decisions concerning your child's future.

Some of these choices may pertain to selecting an appropriate treatment plan. It's essential to understand that there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to therapy for autism. To improve the management of autistic symptoms, a combination of different therapeutic approaches is typically employed.

Autism therapies are often tailored to address specific symptoms, with each therapy focused on achieving a distinct objective. Given the array of treatment options available, it's crucial to conduct thorough research to determine which therapy is the most suitable for your child.

Types of therapy for autism

1. Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy in autism or OT primarily concentrates on enhancing a child's daily living abilities, motor skills, and social skills. Autistic children might encounter challenges in tasks such as dressing, brushing teeth, and self-feeding. OT has demonstrated its effectiveness in facilitating the acquisition of these essential life skills.

OT contributes to the cultivation of independence in children, which holds a significant role in their overall growth and development. Your child's occupational therapist will assess their current symptoms and establish treatment goals. A comprehensive treatment plan will then be devised, tailored to your child's specific requirements. OT interventions often incorporate creative approaches, and the therapist engages in one-on-one sessions with the child.

2. Sensory Integration Therapy

One of the primary symptoms of autism is sensory processing dysfunction. Some individuals with autism experience either heightened or diminished sensitivity to sensory input. This is a type of occupational therapy that aims to assist children in effectively processing sensory stimuli, such as sounds, light, and touch. People with sensory processing challenges often struggle to interpret information received through their senses, which can adversely affect their daily activities.

This therapy focuses on addressing issues related to the tactile, proprioceptive, and vestibular sensory systems. It employs physical exercises to aid children in processing sensory information more effectively. Therapeutic strategies may include activities such as swinging, applying deep pressure or utilising weighted vests.

3. Speech and Language Therapy

Many children with autism encounter challenges related to communication, which can manifest in verbal or non-verbal forms. The degree of speech and language difficulties can vary from mild to severe, with some children using limited words while others being completely nonverbal. Speech therapy in autism is designed to address a broad spectrum of communication issues.

The therapist will assess your child's current communication struggles and provide recommendations for addressing these hurdles. In addition to enhancing verbal and nonverbal skills, speech therapy also plays a pivotal role in enhancing social communication abilities.

Depending on your child's unique needs, therapy sessions may encompass various strategies, such as improving speech rate and rhythm, assisting the child in naming objects, identifying and expressing emotions, teaching the use of hand signals and and providing guidance on interpreting and utilising body language cues.

4. Play Therapy

Play serves as a valuable therapeutic tool that can facilitate interactions and relationships for children with autism.

A play therapist employs play as a medium to encourage the development of crucial skills like sharing, turn-taking, and imagination, which are vital for the child's growth and maturation.

One commonly utilised play technique is Floortime, characterised by sessions conducted on the floor, where the child takes the lead. The therapist follows the child's cues and engages in games or activities chosen by the child. The primary objective is to allow the child to freely explore their interests and express emotions, enabling the therapist to gain insight into the child's world.

5. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is grounded in the fundamental principle that our thoughts, emotions, and actions are interconnected and mutually influence one another. It is among the most widely utilised therapeutic approaches across a range of conditions. When applied to Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), CBT serves as a valuable tool in addressing secondary concerns, such as anxiety, depression, emotional regulation, and social skills deficits.

Within CBT sessions, the therapist adopts a structured, here-and-now approach to create a comprehensive plan tailored to your child's needs. Commonly employed strategies encompass relaxation techniques, role-playing, cognitive restructuring, and behavioural exercises, among others. Through CBT, your child can gain valuable skills in reshaping their thoughts and developing effective coping mechanisms.

6. Behavioural interventions

Behavioural interventions for autism are a set of evidence-based approaches that concentrate on modifying behaviours and teaching new skills. These interventions are designed to address the unique challenges individuals with autism may encounter, such as communication difficulties, social deficits, and challenging behaviours. Notable examples include Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Positive Behavior Support (PBS).

Behavioural interventions have specific goals, such as improving communication, enhancing social interactions, teaching daily living skills, and reducing problematic behaviours. They are highly individualised, data-driven, and often involve a multidisciplinary team of professionals, making them a crucial part of a comprehensive treatment plan for individuals with autism. 


In conclusion, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) encompasses a wide range of challenges and its treatment requires a tailored and holistic approach. A combination of therapies, early intervention, medication, educational support, and family involvement is essential for individuals with ASD to thrive and reach their full potential.

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Dr. Arati Soman

Dr. Arati Soman is a seasoned Ayurvedic physician and Head Formulator at Nisarga Herbs. Driven by a deep passion for Ayurveda and vast expertise, she has been instrumental in formulating medicines, diagnostic procedures, and innovative Ayurvedic treatments that are trusted globally.