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The goal of treatment for ASD is to reduce symptoms that interfere with daily functioning and quality of life. ASD affects each individual differently, and treatment plans often involve multiple professionals and are individualized. It can take place in educational, health, community or family settings or in multiple settings. It is important to communicate among providers and between people with ASD and their families to make sure treatment goals and progress. There are many available types of treatment:
Behavioral approaches: have the most evidence for treating ASD symptoms. One significant behavioral treatment for people with ASD is called Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Two styles of ABA instruction are discrete trial training (DTT) and critical response training (PRT). DTT sessions are broken down into their simplest parts, and desired answers and behaviors are rewarded, unwanted answers and behaviors are ignored. PRT takes place in a natural environment, and the goal is to improve some “pivotal skills” and help to learn many other skills. Communicate with others is one of the examples of a pivotal skill.
Developmental approaches: The most common type is Speech and Language Therapy, which help improve the understanding and use of speech and language. Occupational Therapy teaches skills that help people to live as independently as possible, such as dressing, eating, bathing and interacting with people.
Educational approaches: The Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication-Handicapped Children (TEACCH) idea is that people with ASD thrive on consistency and visual learning.
Social-relational approaches: focus on improving social skills and building emotional bonds. The Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship-Based model (also called “Floor time”)encourages parents and therapists to follow individual interests in order to expand communication opportunities. The Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) model involves activities that increase motivation, interest, and ability to engage in shared social interactions.
Pharmacological approaches: There are no medications that actually treat core symptoms of ASD. Some medications can treat co-occurring symptoms, such as controlling self-harming behavior. Medication can also help manage co-occurring psychological conditions, such as anxiety or depression.
Psychological approaches: Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a psychological approach that focuses on learning the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Complementary and alternative treatments: include special diets, herbal supplement, chiropractic care, animal therapy, art therapy, or relaxation therapies.