There are many choices when it comes to therapeutic interventions and autism spectrum disorders. There are strengths and weaknesses in every program.
There may be no one “best” choice of therapy for a child with autism spectrum disorder. The most appropriate therapy at any given time for any given child is dependent on many factors. The age of the child, their stage of development, their learning needs, personality, the family culture and environment all play a role. Families may adopt a single approach, or try and use aspects of a variety of approaches.
As your child grows and develops, you may find a need to change your approach. Effective interventions will be multifaceted, drawing from more than one source. For parents and caregivers, it is a matter of finding the resources that fit the ways your child needs to grow at his or her current stage of development.
In your own research, you may come across some therapies or treatments referred to as “evidence based practice”. This means that there have been many studies done that provide evidence that the approach is beneficial for someone who has ASD. There is compelling scientific evidence to show these treatments do what they claim to do.
Also, there are approaches used with individuals who have ASD that are referred to as “emerging-evidence”. This means that these approaches have one or more studies suggesting that the intervention may produce favorable outcomes. However, more research that consistently shows these treatments are effective for individuals with ASD are needed before the approach can be confidently considered to be effective. It is important to note that research is ongoing.
“Un-established treatments” are treatments where there is little or no evidence to show that the treatment is helpful. There is no reason to assume these treatments are effective. This being said, there is no way to rule out the possibility these treatments are ineffective or harmful.
There are a wide array of approaches available – some yet to be scientifically proven, and others that prey on the desperation families sometimes feel when their child has been diagnoses with ASD. While many effective therapies are not evidence-based, due to a lack of formal research, no approach has been shown to be effective for every person and situation, and effectiveness also depends on the skills and understanding of the people running a program. There is a need to proceed carefully when considering whether it makes sense for you and your child. Your family’s perspective and needs are an additional point to keep in mind when considering options for your child.
Early Intervention Services
Research shows that early intervention treatment services can greatly improve a child’s development. Early intervention services help children from birth to 3 years old (36 months) learn important skills. Early intervention may include therapy to help the child talk, walk, and interact with others. It is important to talk to your child’s doctor as soon as possible if you think your child has ASD or other developmental problem.
Even if your child has not been diagnosed with ASD, he or she may be eligible for early intervention treatment services offered through the provincial government. Treatment for particular symptoms, such as speech therapy for language delays, often does not need to wait for a formal ASD diagnosis. Starting intervention in earlier years in beneficial as it will help lay the groundwork needed for the child with ASD in their later years. However, it is never too late to support learning – therapy offered at any age will be helpful for the child in their development.
To learn more about the different types of therapies that can be used for individuals who have ASD, click on the following links: