A Review of Autism Treatments

Vancouver child psychiatrist Vikram Dua had some interesting arguments about the published findings on autism treatments. He said the autism label itself can be a very broad and imprecise definition covering various symptoms and developmental and behavioural problems – each warranting a different, though possibly complementary, treatment. Measuring the success of each individual choice is difficult. Many children are taking medication and participating in one-on-one personal therapy at the same time, so how can you determine which therapy is responsible for improvement in a child?

There are other important questions to be considered when it comes to treatments and therapies for autism. I blogged about choosing a treatment/therapy for individuals with ASD back in September 2009 because too often, we don’t take into consideration things like the impact a treatment or therapy might have on the family, the functioning level of the individual, cognitive ability, cost, time commitment, or the availability of qualified professionals to administer a therapy.

I am for a National Autism Strategy in this country, but feel reluctant to support a specific treatment protocol. Autism Spectrum Disorder affects each person so differently and choosing a treatment or therapy depends on many factors. I would like to see more services covered by basic health care such a speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physiotherapy. Although some plans do provide coverage for psychological services, many are not adequate. Mental health issues from anxiety, depression, to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) affect a large number of the ASD population.

Autism still continues to be a puzzling disorder and what the best treatment protocols for improvement are. What works for one family does not for another. We need to keep an open mind in this field, continue to fund studies, and source the best ethical and sound protocols. Autism Watch is a great site that exposes bogus treatments and products. I also like the book Changing the Course of Autism for scientific approaches to treatment in autism.

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