Treatment Options

There is no cure for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD); however, there are many therapies and behavioral intervention options available for ASD.  Our list is intended to provide you with an overview/guide of the many different available options and is to be used as informational only.  It is in no way meant as medical advice or recommendations.  With the complexity of ASD and with every child being an individual, it is important to know that no single type of treatment works for all children with ASD, and what is currently working for one child may stop working at any given time.  You will want to work with your physician, teachers and therapists to determine the best course of treatment options based on your child’s current needs.  There are also a number of controversial therapies or interventions available and few are supported by scientific studies.  Parents should use caution before using any of these forms of treatments.  Available treatments options include, but are not limited to the following:

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA): uses a method that gives positive reinforcement to the child to build play, social and communication skills while reducing problem behaviors.  ABA's overall focus is to allow the child to function as independently as possible in all environments. ABA was first introduced by B.F. Skinner.  For more information on ABA, please visit: http://iaba.com/iaba_dw_website/index2.html

Applied Verbal Behavior (AVB): is the latest style of ABA.  It uses B. F. Skinner's 1957 analysis of Verbal Behavior to teach and reinforce speech, along with other skills.  AVB programs will focus on getting a child to realize that language will get him what he wants, when he wants it.  Requesting is often one of the first verbal skills taught; children are taught to use language to communicate, rather than just to label items.  Learning how to make requests should also improve behavior.

Auditory Integration Therapy (AIT): is used to help individuals who have difficulties with being over-sensitive to sounds or experience auditory processing problems.  Treatment with AIT involves listening to music that has been electronically modified through headphones.  There has not been any studies to determine its effectiveness.  Some Occupational and Speech Language Therapist use AIT in conjunction with therapies.

Chelation Therapy: Chelation Therapy involves removing heavy metals and toxins from the body.  This is done by using special medications that bind to the heavy metals and carry them out of the body.  For more information, please speak to your physician.

Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT): Discrete Trial Teaching is an educational strategy based on the principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA).  Discrete Trial Teaching involves breaking skills down into smaller components and teaching those smaller sub-skills individually.  Repeated practice of skills is conducted, and teachers may incorporate prompting procedures as necessary.  Correct responses are followed by reinforcement procedures to facilitate the learning process.

Early Intervention: Early Intervention is for children under the age of three.  Children at risk of a developmental delay or disorder are routinely referred to Early Intervention by their physicians. 

Floor Time: Floor Time is a method in which the parents interact with the child at a level the child already enjoys and follows the child's lead.  The parents will then lead the child gradually into more complex interactions to build on the child's strengths.  Floor Time was developed by Stanley Greenspan.  For more information, please visit: http://www.stanleygreenspan.com/

Gluten Free, Casein Free Diet: A lot of families who have a child with Autism have tried, or are currently trying this.  It is a dietary and nutritional intervention that has been known to help some children with Autism.  It requires you to remove all Gluten and Casein from the child's diet.  For more information, please visit: https://www.tacanow.org/family-resources/gfcfsf-diet/

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT): has been utilized to treat Autism in many countries throughout the world.  The rationale behind using hyperbaric for Autism is that the treatments increase cerebral blood flow and thus oxygen is delivered to areas of the brain, which are thought to be oxygen deficient.  Greater amounts of blood and oxygen begin to stimulate cerebral tissues and aid in recovery of idling neurons.  HBOT also reduces excess fluids and swelling of brain tissues which aid in neurological function and a less confused state in people affected by autism.

Medications: Doctors may prescribe certain medications for specific autism-related symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.  Medications may also be used to treat severe behavioral problems or if your child has Seizures (common with ASD).

Music Therapy: is now an established health service similar to occupational therapy and physical therapy.  Research supports parallels between speech and singing, rhythm and motor behavior, and overall ability of preferred music to enhance mood, attention and behavior to optimize an individual's ability to learn and interact.  For more information, please visit: http://autism.about.com/od/autismtherapy101/a/musictherapy.htm

Occupational Therapy (OT): uses many methods to enable the child to maximize their skills while introducing new daily life skills so that the child can become more independent in daily life.  Some Occupational Therapists also provide Sensory Integration Therapy. 

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS): is an alternative method where children with Autism who have little or no verbal communication are given and taught to use picture cards to communicate while trying to increase verbal communication.  For more information, please visit: http://www.pecsusa.com/index.php

Relationship Development Intervention (RDI): is unique because it is designed to be done by parents in everyday life situations.  The object is to help teach their child to interact positively with other people, even without language and on skills such as friendships, empathy and the desire to share experiences with others.  Their approach takes into account the ways in which typically developing children learn how to have emotional relationships.  Parents can learn the program through books, training seminars and/or by working with a RDI certified consultant.  For more information, please visit: http://www.rdiconnect.com/

Sensory Integration Therapy (SIT): Some children with ASD have sensory problems.  The child can be either over or under sensitive to touch, movement, sights and sounds.  The child will be guided through activities that challenge the child's ability to respond appropriately to sensory input.  Sensory Integration Therapy is typically provided by Occupational Therapists.

Social Skills: Individuals with ASD have difficulty with social interactions.  Social Skills can be taught in both one-on-one and in group settings.  Social Skills training teaches individuals about the verbal and nonverbal behaviors involved in social interactions, along with skills that can range from simple; such as eye contact, to more difficult; such as inviting a friend over to play.  Studies have shown that this type of intervention program can significantly improve social competence and social skill development.

Speech Language Therapy (SLT): Speech Therapy will be slightly different for each child.  This will depend on where your child's verbal and social development is at.  A speech therapist will do an evaluation prior to beginning therapy.  Speech Therapy is to improve all aspects of communication.  This includes: comprehension, expression, sound production and social use of language.  Speech Therapy may include the use of sign language and/or picture symbols.

Training and Education of Autistic and related Communication-handicapped Children (TEACCH): is an education program that is designed to meet the child's individual needs with some guidelines.  TEACCH is unique because their focus is also on the environment around the child.  The environment is structured and changed so that it also meets the child's needs so that they are able to focus while learning.  For more information, please visit: http://www.teacch.com/