Anyone who has a child with autism knows that the disorder is extraordinarily complex. It can create gaps in the ability of a child to communicate and understand social reciprocity. It also manifests by creating limited interests and repetitive behavior. As a parent, it can be hard to determine what kind of treatment is right for a child. There are dozens of interventions available, but their level of effectiveness can vary wildly.
Some of the most commonly used interventions include Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), specialized diets, sensory integration, mercury detoxification programs, and pharmacological interventions. The problem is that for all of these treatments except for ABA, there is no scientific evidence that they are effective. The idea of choosing a treatment option and then having it not work can be stressful, which is why parents should know how to evaluate the effectiveness of various treatments.
Types of Therapy for Individuals with Autism
After a child has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, they will often move right into some form of treatment. Early intervention programs often focus on the following:
- Behavioral Therapy – ABA is the most common therapy for children with autism. Therapists reward appropriate behaviors to build on skills that will help a child now and in the future. There are other types of behavioral therapy available, but ABA is the most common and has the most research backing it.
- Occupational Therapy – This is often offered as a type of play therapy that can be used to help with sensory and communication issues. It can also be of help with other skills like cutting with scissors and holding a pencil, both of which are important in academic settings.
- Speech Therapy – Some children with autism speak and others do not. Children of both sorts can be helped with learning the appropriate way to communicate, whether verbally, non-verbally, or both.
Determining the Effect of Treatment
Many children end up going through several types of therapy each week, which can make it challenging to determine what is working and what is not. This is especially true when new treatments are added to existing ones. It can be tempting to assume the new treatment is causing any additional skills when that might or might not be true. To decide if a treatment option is working, we have a few tips:
- Start with a baseline – Knowing where a child is starting can help you determine how much progress they’d made later. Keeping records or a journal over a few weeks before a new treatment can be useful. This can be done with any kind of therapy treatment for a child with autism.
- Have set goals – If your only goal is for the child to improve, there’s no way to accurately measure the outcome. The best option is to work with a therapist to create both long and short-term goals. Then you can easily look at the data and see how the treatment is working.
- Keep detailed records – Rather than saying “he’s communicating more,” write down how much the child is communicating. Keep records of when they are communicating and in what ways. This gives you a chance to compare results based on something clearer than just “there was an improvement.”
Remember that a therapist is there to help you and your child and can recommend the best treatment options. You can also look at scientific research to determine whether a therapy option has proven results. If you want to learn more options for a child with autism, PBS Therapy is here to help. Get in touch with us today and we will answer all your questions.