Every parent wants to be sure that their children have a fulfilling and healthy life. However, parents of children with autism can sometimes run into issues with claims that ineffective, unsafe, or expensive treatments offer the same benefits as a scientifically-proven autism therapy. Parents should always look into the scientific rationale behind any treatment before beginning it for their child.
It’s also an excellent idea to speak with your healthcare provider to make sure the treatment option chosen has been proven to be both safe and effective in scientific studies. The studies should be published in highly reputable, well-established, peer-reviewed medical journals before believing them.
The Prevalence of Healthcare Misinformation
On the Internet, anyone can post a study or start a journal and claim that what they are saying is accurate. This can be done to push parents toward useless or even dangerous autism therapy. In the United States, healthcare fraud is unfortunately common, and parents of kids with autism may find themselves targeted.
For a study to be evidence-based, the treatment has to have been investigated in several scientific studies and show sustained, measurable improvements in specific targeted areas. Some of the things that well-design studies include are:
- Comparison Groups – The people trying the new therapy should be compared with a group receiving no treatment or a standard treatment. The comparison group should match the other group in terms of diagnosis, gender distribution, age, level of functioning, and other variables.
- Random Assignment – Scientific studies should include random assignment of all individuals. This includes whether the individual is in the treatment or comparison group.
- Representative Samples – All participants in a study for autism therapy should be a representation of the actual popular. For example, a study looking at toddlers with autism and an average IQ should use participants who have those same characteristics.
- Pre and Post Test Design – An essential part of any evidence-based study is testing. Performance on a specific test or set of tests should be done both before and after treatment to show any changes.
- Blind Individuals – When possible and appropriate, participants and investigators should be unaware of their group assignments. This helps avoid any bias that might be found in the data collection stage.
- Large Samples – The best studies are going to use large samples using statistical analysis and past research.
Choosing an Appropriate and Effective Autism Therapy Option
The most well-established treatment option for individuals with autism is applied behavior analysis (ABA). It uses principles of learning therapy to help improve a child’s behavioral, developmental, and cognitive functioning. This method is a practical choice to increase adaptive functioning and learning abilities in children with autism. It has a long track record of providing meaningful changes over time.
Keep in mind that autism therapy can vary based on the level of functioning and age of the child. Some of the most common targets include teaching new skills, improving current abilities, and reducing challenging behaviors. Before selecting a treatment option for your child, make sure it’s safe and effective. It’s the best way to help your child enjoy a fulfilling and healthy life.