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ASD Treatment Options

Article: Parent Perceptions About Autism Spectrum Disorder Influence Treatment Choices. By Mire and others. In Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 2017, 32(4).

The authors suggest that while clinicians worry about applying empirically supported techniques (ESTs) in their work with ASD individuals, parents may have other ways to choose what interventions, if any, to use for their ASD child. The researchers state that this is a growing field of research, so their findings may not be very profound to the average individual. My life was not changed by reading the outcomes of this research, even though I appreciate that the research is being done.

What was interesting to me, however, was how they categoriezed the various treatment choices available to or pursued by parents of children with an ASD diagnosis. I thought I would list and briefly describe them here. Why I think this is useful is because this data was taken from a much larger dataset, so I think these options are a meaningful distillation of treatment options for parents.

  • School-based Services

I believe I have commented extensively on these. The range and quality of these services vary greatly, but it would make sense that these are the most extensively-utilized services. Most of it is free, and your kids have to go to school.

  • Speech Therapy

Speech therapists focus not only on speech skills, but also social skills. I was surprised to learn this as well way back when I started in this field. I have had many clients over the years who work with a speech therapist while they are working with me. A lot of times speech therapy happens in a group format, which is doubly beneficial.

  • Psychotropic Medications

I had a supervisor once who talked about "better living through chemistry". It is true that medication does not treat ASD, but it can help treat some of the symptoms of ASD by reducing intensity of symptomatology or increasing attention and focus, among other things. I am not always a huge fan of medications, but I do like having the information so I usually recommend a medication evaluation.

  • Intensive Behavioral Treatments

This study focused on children, so an example of this is Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). These are usually time-limited or goal-limited treatments. You might get a referral for such services from your child's pediatrician or school.

  • Biomedical Treatments

These are interventions such as special diets (gluten free) or chelation (removal of heavy metals from the blood). I am looking forward to seeing more reliable research about this. I am becoming more convinced that diet and the physical environment (e.g., pollution, chemical exposure) have a larger impact on our lives than we realize. I certainly hope that these interventions result in reliable positive outcomes for clients, but for every reasonable biomedical treatment presented to me, I hear a dozen absolutely crazy theories about other biomedical interventions and why they will work. Be very careful with these treatments and do your homework before you institute any of these type of intervention. I really like the ones that are good for everyone (e.g., reduce sugar intake and exposure to artificial ingredients, exercise) and will benefit you regardless your diagnosis.

For the record, I thought I would include some links that I use to keep up with effective, evidence-based treatments.

  • Treatments for children

  • Treatments for adults

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