About the Work Group on Autism Research and Training

Treatment Options

There is no cure for ASD. However, there are a variety of treatments that can improve your child’s behavior, communication and social skills. The earlier in your child’s life that these interventions begin, the more effective they can be. There is no single treatment protocol for all children with autism, but most individuals with ASD respond best to highly structured programs. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a method which has become widely accepted as an effective treatment. Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General states, "Thirty years of research demonstrated the efficacy of applied behavioral methods in reducing inappropriate behavior and in increasing communication, learning, and appropriate social bahavior." Other interventions that can be part of a complete treatment program may include: Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), visual schedules, social skills training, social stories, and the school-based TEAACH method.

For more information on therapies and treatments:
Go to austism and then Sound Advice, www.aap.org
Go to Management of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, www.medicalhomeinfo.org/about/cocwd/autism.aspx

What Medical or Alternative Treatments Are Safe?

There is no medication to specifically treat autism. However, medication can sometimes treat particular symptoms. These symptoms could be poor attention or hyperactivity, and also could be anxiety or aggression. Work closely with your developmental pediatrician, psychiatrist, or your child’s doctor so that medications are used safely. Sometimes dosages need to be adjusted or different medicines need to be tried before the most effective medicine or combination of medicines for your child is found. Recording changes in symptoms or your child’s response to medication is an important part of your role in working with the doctor.

Several alternative interventions are special diets that eliminate foods containing gluten or casein. These are usually found in breads and dairy products. It is important to provide a balanced diet for our children that include a variety of foods. Be sure to keep food records and report any changes in your child’s symptoms if you try this alternative treatment. Another treatment some families try is increased doses of vitamins, especially vitamin B6. More invasive alternatives are chelation therapy to remove mercury and other chemical substances from the child’s bloodstream and the use of secretin injections. All of these alternative treatments are considered controversial and research is not available to support their effectiveness on large numbers of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Should you involve your child with any alternative therapies, please inform your child’s doctor so that progress and conditions can be monitored.

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