Autism: Treatment

A structured educational program and tailored behavioral therapy have been shown to be very beneficial to children with autism.

Psychotherapeutic: One effective intervention is a psychotherapeutic regimen called applied behavior analysis. This therapy seeks to maximize the child’s learning and development by systematically encouraging desired social and communication behaviors, actively teaching ways of interaction other children learn intuitively in childhood. Another approach, dubbed “developmentally-based intervention,” seeks to educate and engage with a child using the subjects, words, and stimuli appropriate to the developmental stages they have in effect been excluded from, modeling the typical progression for an atypical child. As autism and autism spectrum disorders manifest differently in every child, other therapies include occupational, physical, and speech-language.

Pharmacological: There are no drugs that target the core symptoms of autism, but medications are often prescribed to help with problems that often occur alongside the disorder, such as depression, anxiety, and hyperactivity.

Alternative: It should be noted that many alternative treatments and even “cures” have been proposed for autism spectrum disorder. None of these alternative treatments—chelation, diets, supplements, facilitated communication—have any reliable scientific evidence behind them. Some, particularly chelation—an attempt to remove heavy metals from the body via chemical injections—can be very dangerous. It’s important that parents who choose to pursue these therapies should do so in close consultation with a qualified physician.