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New Type of Therapy for Children with Autism

November 1, 2012

A main idea within the Sociology of Mental Health is that an individual’s environment contributes to the status of their mental health. The article (link provided below) that I will be looking at for this blog post was published by CNN and is titled Early Therapy Can Change Brains of Kids with Autism. This article reports new positive findings for a particular type of behavioral therapy called the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) for children with autism. In class it has been discussed that mental health disorders fall within three groups and autism would fall within the severe or chronic disease that is caused less by environment and more due to biological factors. However, this does not mean that ones environment does not greatly affect the way their autism is expressed and the way they live their life.

In this article it is discussed that the Early Start Denver Model has been shown to not only improve symptoms of autism, but also improve social behavior and through EEG (electorencephalogram) can be seen to normalize brain activity. During ESDM therapy children play on the ground with their therapist or their parents rather than sitting at a desk being taught complex task in bite-size components. This is a perfect example of how environment can drastically change an outcome. By simply switching the environment that the child learns in ESDM allows the child to build a social relationship that is based on play, which helps them immensely.

Another benefit of this type of therapy is that parents can easily learn ESDM and use it at home; therefore, children continue to improve their social learning and overcome autism symptoms.  However, this brings up the key issue of social support. We have discussed how important social support is in regards to mental health and how it can greatly affect the outcome of ones mental health. It is clear that with ESDM therapy social support from the parents is key to the child’s success and parental involvement to the degree that may be needed is not always available for the children that need it most.

Early Start Denver Model shows the significance of environment on affecting and in this case improving mental health. A child who has autism can normalize their brain activity by simply changing the way they experience therapy and by having social support to help them learn social relationships. It is also important to note that nowhere within this article or the reported study was medication referenced. This fact may be evidence that our society is continuing its shift from a medicalized model of mental health to increasing emphasis on how environment can effect and shift mental health disorders.

Hayley Murphy

Link for article:

http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/31/health/autism-therapy-brain/index.html

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