Communication therapy is used to treat autism or autistic patients who are unable to communicate verbally, or to initiate language development in young children with the disorder. Speech therapy may be used to help patients gain the ability to speak.
Picture exchange communication systems (PECS) enable autistic patients to communicate using pictures that represent ideas, activities, or items. The patient is able to convey requests, needs, and desires to others by simply handing them a picture.
Autism is not caused by diet and the use of dietary modifications and supplements to treat the disorder is controversial. Changing the diet or adding vitamin supplements may improve digestion and eliminate food intolerances or allergies, which may contribute to behavioral problems in autistic patients.
Researchers have found elevated levels of proteins found in wheat, oats and rye (gluten) and casein (protein in dairy products) byproducts in patients with autism, suggesting that the incomplete breakdown or excessive absorption of these substances may affect brain function. Eliminating foods that contain gluten and casein from the diet may cause side effects and should not be done without the advice of a health care practitioner.
Studies have shown that vitamin B, magnesium (improves the effects of vitamin B), and cod liver oil supplements (which contain vitamins A and D) may improve behavior, eye contact, attention span, and learning in autistic children or patients. Vitamin C has been shown to improve depression and lessen the severity of symptoms in patients with autism.