March 26, 2013 | Alberta
Recent studies show that a certain type of behavioral therapy can improve symptoms and brain activity in children with autism. The therapy, called the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM), aims to use a play-based, developmental, relationship approach to treating young children with autism and other mental disorders.
Basics of ESDM
ESDM fuses methods from applied behavioral analysis, where children are in a one-on-one relationship with a therapist, with traditional playtime, CNN reports. The children are most often sitting on a floor playing with parents or therapists, helping to develop a social relationship. Parents or guardians can be taught the basics of this method relatively quickly, allowing them to engage in practice in the home and extending the amount of treatment they receive.
Part of the reason this new treatment shows positive results is because it also leverages the effectiveness of early therapy. Many of the best outcomes in cases with childhood autism occur when intense and comprehensive treatments are enacted shortly after a diagnosis. According the source, results of the initial study show that early therapy increased IQ and language skills in autistic children more than three times that of children undergoing traditional treatments.
Positive Outlook for Therapy
With the research pointing to a positive outlook for ESDM, the next step is to begin using the treatment in a more widespread manner. Currently, 1 in 88 children will likely be diagnosed with some kind of autism spectrum disorder, but by using techniques like ESDM, workers can help to improve brain functions in those afflicted - perhaps leading to those children leading a more "normal" life.
"Therapy capitalizes on the potential of learning that an infant brain has in order to limit autism's deleterious effects," said study author Sally Rogers. "The findings on improved behavioral outcomes and the ability to normalize brain activity associated with social activities signify that there is tremendous potential for the brains of children with autism to develop and grow more normally."
This news may be of interest to professionals who work in the social services field. Those interested in training for a career in social services can enroll in a range of programs at CDI College, including Addictions & Community Services Worker program , Social Services Worker Youth Specialist and more. Graduates of these programs can seek employment opportunities in mental health centres, group homes or correctional facilities. For more information, fill out the form on the right.