My four year old son, Jacoby, has ADHD and high functioning autism. I am so confused and overwhelmed with the different therapies. I only know a little bit and ABA is the one that keeps popping up. What other therapy options are there and what are the pro cons? I just want to do what's best for him!
The most common are ABA, Speech, OT, and PT. When the children get older sometimes phsch appointments help as well.
Autistic children tend to have secondary medical conditions that need to be addressed and if they are physical conditions OT and PT are best, and the OT is more for fine motor skills. PT would be for things like low core strength which is common with autistic children.
ABA is great and works wonders, however it takes time and is dependent on the therapist to be successful. Speech is not just teaching children to talk or talk properly it is also for overall communication so if the child is nonverbal they can teach other ways to communicate.
I think they are all important but I know sometimes it is tough to afford it all if insurance doesn't pay. My children do all of those therapies but we do have insurance and the school district paying for it.
I am still hashing this out myself, and have yet to choose a path. What our insurance will cover will also be playing a part in our treatment plan, but since we have just now received our son's diagnosis, we are awaiting word on that. I have definitely been researching ABA, but if you are looking for options, another our psychologist recommended when I asked for alternatives, is the Denver Model (ESDM). I'm still researching myself, so I am not informed enough to offer you any explanation of what it is or its efficacy, I just know it's another option. :)
At his age, it's important to get him evaluated by the school district too. At age 3 they begin working with kiddos in pre-k special day classrooms. I was SUPER hesitant to get the school involved so early, but once I did I was sorry I didn't do so sooner. The classroom and teachers are created to help kids on the spectrum succeed. Likewise, the school district can provide speech & OT, if needed. School OT is different from insurance provided OT (assuming they provide it at all), so it can be important to educational success.
School aside, ABA is the often the first therapy families try, as it's usually the only one covered by insurance. What @A MyAutismTeam Member said above about ABA is spot on. It really does depend on the quality of your therapists (which is hit & miss given the high turnover rate), and the management team. The Denver Model of ABA, which is more play based, seems to be the prevailing method these days (at least here in California).
There are some great books & blogs on sensory processing too -- complete with activities to help keep him regulated.
There's a lot to know. I'm two years in and still learning, but it sounds like you're totally on the ball with everything! If you have any specific questions, feel free to reach out :)
We have had huge success with the early Denver model and ABA program. He received EDM before age 3 and then went full time ABA. I like the play-based theory because my son needs to be doing many different things and not stuck in a strict program. He gets music class twice a week for social interaction as well.
I just received my son's diagnostic and we are going with the ABA and the speech therapy. I have meet a few people who had choosen the ABA and they were very much satisfied. Yet again every child is unique and the spectrum is so large that its really difficult to predict the outcomes.
I am staying positive with the decision made and will stay committed to it.