5 Current Autism Treatments

No single treatment is best for autism. Treatment is usually based on the child’s specific needs and every professional has his or her own practices and philosophies in caring for children with autism. Here are five of the current interventions in autism:


Lovaas is a form of autism intervention guided by applied behavior analysis. It is also known as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Intensive Behavior Intervention (IBI), and Discrete Trial (DT). The primary goal of this treatment is to teach a child how to learn by concentrating on developing skills in imitation, attending, pre-academics, receptive/expressive language, and self-help. Initial research reports gains in language comprehension and language expression, IQ, and social and adaptive skills.


The Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication handicapped Children (TEACCH) is an approach that focuses more on autism than behavior. The TEACCH guiding principles and concepts are summarized as: parent collaboration, improved adaption, assessment for individualized treatment, structured teaching, skill enhancement, cognitive and behavior therapy, and generalist training.


The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) approach is based on the need to distinguish between communicating and talking. It mixes comprehensive knowledge of speech therapy with understanding of communication. The main goal of this intervention is to help the child to spontaneously start communicative interaction and develop communicative competency. Empirical data have supported the goals of this treatment.


Greenspan focuses on emotional development following a developmental model. This intervention depends on acute and informed observations of the child to identify current level of functioning. It builds from the child, so the approach is child-centered. It teaches parents how to deal with the child in more relaxed and happier ways. Greenspan lays a strong structure for future cognitive/neurological development.


This intervention was originally designed for children suffering from mental retardation and those with disabilities other than autism. Inclusion is an intervention of choice of many parents and healthcare professionals because it provides more opportunities for social interaction and role modeling and greater experience with verbal communication. It also provides opportunities for the child’s peers to have better understanding of and greater tolerance for differences.


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