As a parent, you have likely read books or heard stories of children who “recovered” from autism or made significant gains using a particular treatment. These anecdotal (based on personal observation, rather than scientific investigation) reports can be both a blessing and a curse as they inspire hope, but may also lead to disappointment when they fail to provide the hoped for results. We don’t yet know the cause(s) of autism; therefore, there is no definitive treatment protocol. What seems to work for one child may not work for another.

With 1 in 110 children diagnosed today, autism is in the news more and more. You may have seen recent news coverage on several articles in the Journal of Pediatrics that looked at studies of the efficacy (effectiveness) of treatments for autism and concluded that that there was little to no evidence that the treatments evaluated were effective for children with autism. But the brief news blast didn’t report the entire summary of the studies. Bryan King, MD, psychiatrist and director of Seattle Children’s Autism Center, points out that “The absence of evidence does not mean that treatments don’t work. I believe the lack of evidence points out the need for more information.”

When such confusing and often conflicting information abounds, how is a parent to know what to try? There are many important considerations to take into account, including cost and effort, so it’s worth doing some homework and deciding on the best fit for your child’s unique profile.

This is the first in a series of blogs focused on treatment for autism. The next blog will offer an overview of what’s “out there” in the realm of possibilities and then successive blogs will provide more in-depth information on many  different types of treatment. We will also attempt to  help you understand if “treatment” is the same as “intervention” is the same as “therapy” and define terms, such as “evidence-based”, that are often associated with treatments.

Our last blog in this series will be dedicated to helping you weigh all the available information and decide what is the best plan for your child, including tips on:

  • Where to find information/learn about prospective treatments
  • How to weigh benefits and risks
  • How to determine which treatments to try with your child
  • How much time to invest
  • Should you do one thing at a time or several?
  • How to track progress and determine if something is working or not
  • When to move on or try something else
  • Tips and strategies for when you feel like you’ve tried everything

There’s much more to come so stay tuned  for our overview of the longstanding, more “conventional” treatments as well as the “newest and latest” things that seem to appear in my email box every week. Autism is confusing enough. Let us help you filter information, make sound decisions and stay focused on your child’s specific needs.