Among the myriad treatments available to individuals with autism spectrum disorders today, alternative therapies have gained a great deal of attention in recent years. According to a 2006 study, about 50 percent of children with autism in the United States may receive some form of complementary and/or alternative medicine.
Alternative therapy generally refers to those interventions or treatments that differ from and are used instead of conventional treatments like physical therapy. Examples include music therapy, hippotherapy, and nutritional therapies. Alternative therapies have emerged as part of a growing assortment of treatments used for individuals across the autism spectrum. In fact, many families who have chosen to use alternative therapies see them as fun, motivational, and potentially helpful treatment approaches for their son or daughter with ASD. Despite the fact that little scientific evidence exists on the efficacy of these treatments, many parents and therapists attribute improvements in their child or patient to alternative therapies, such as those briefly described below.