Treatment for autism

This section discusses treatment for autism and other autistic spectrum disorders. This treatment does not ’cure’ autism but it enables people to manage their condition and improve their quality of life.

This section discusses the following forms of treatment:

Each of these programmes is discussed as a separate section.

Treatment consists of a range of techniques, methods and programmes –known as ’interventions’, which are designed to improve certain skills such as social, motor and cognitive skills.

Helping you to manage your autism

Then there are issues of coping with an autistic spectrum disorder on a day to day level. Autistic people find it difficult to understand the world around them: they are confused and bewildered by the numerous forms of sensory stimuli, e.g. sounds, smells, colours etc and often feel overloaded by these.

They find it difficult to interact with other people. Conversation is a potential minefield and many autistic people withdraw from others rather then endure what can be a stressful situation. They are unable to decipher the subtle layers of meaning in a conversation and find it difficult to understand gesture and body language.

But this can be remedied by means of programmes which teach social skills such as starting a conversation, taking turns and understanding non-verbal cues.

These interventions are available to both adults and children. Which one is right for you? That is not easy to answer as everyone has different symptoms of autism which vary in extent from one person to another.

So, it is a case of trying to find the most suitable treatment for you.

If you are a parent then it is equally difficult, deciding upon which interventions to choose. But there are guidelines that can help you to make a decision.

Guidelines for choosing an intervention

Here is some advice when considering which intervention to use and why.

Find out about the intervention

Before choosing an intervention, find out exactly what it does, how long it lasts for, what it entails and the outcome. Check that it is run by qualified staff with experience of working with autistic children.

Cost and equipment

Find out how much it will cost, where the location of the venue is for the programme and if any specialist equipment is needed (do you have to purchase anything?).


You may find it useful to talk to other parents who have tried this intervention. Find out as much as you can about an intervention and its success rates.

Allow time for the intervention to work

Be wary of anyone who claims to have a cure for autism or organised a programme which is the best and only treatment for autism. Autism is a complex disorder which requires multiple approaches, often in conjunction with each other.

With any intervention, give it time before deciding whether it works or not. Try to avoid passing judgement on a treatment because you feel that your child is not showing any signs of improvement as it can take some time for your child to adapt to the treatment.


Here are a few guidelines when choosing an intervention.

They include:

  • An intervention should include members of the family: plus there should be an emphasis on parent training.
  • An intervention should be an intensive session which your child participates in for at least 25 hours a week, each month of the year.
  • An intervention should be tightly structured, e.g. contain a series of routines which can be easily adopted by your child.
  • An intervention should enable your child to interact with children who do not have an autistic spectrum disorder. It is important that they learn about social interaction.
  • An intervention should take place in a small group so that your child has access to one-to-one teaching.
  • An intervention should provide opportunities for your child to learn new skills and use these in a variety of situations, e.g. an unfamiliar location.

The aim is for your child to develop social, cognitive, academic and communication skills which are essential for normal participation in society. This applies to both adults and children.

It should also build upon existing strengths as well as compensating for any weaknesses. Plus they must enable autistic people to develop their potential and learn new ways of doing things.

They should be pushed to achieve but not too much. It is fine to move out of the comfort zone but not if it causes stress and anxiety.

It is a good idea to find out as much as you can about a particular intervention before using it.

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