Autism: Treatment

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

Psychotherapeutic: Applied behavior analysis, also known as ABA, is the most widely accepted evidence-based autism therapy. ABA has been shown to help autistic children develop needed skills and minimize undesired behaviors such as self-injury, and it has been shown to be successful for kids all across the autism spectrum, from mild to severe. Its effectiveness is backed up by hundreds of studies

Occupational therapy, known as OT, is designed to help children acquire the skills needed to perform the activities—or “occupations”—of daily life, including fine and gross motor skills, sensory processing skills, self-help skills and more.

Many parents find using something called “Social Stories” to be helpful as well. Social Stories are designed to be an engaging, interactive way of preparing children for social situations. The stories, written from the child’s point of view, use narration, photos and drawings to guide the child through an experience, preparing him for what to expect.

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.

Other resources:

The Autism Speaks 100 Day Kit helps families of children ages four and under learn more about autism and how to access treatment. Families whose children have been diagnosed in the last 6 months may request a complimentary hard copy of the 100 Day Kit from Autism Speaks. The kit is also available in Spanish.