Choosing a Treatment/Therapy for Individuals with ASD

You might speak to other parents to see what they are doing for their child and be influenced by their decisions. Maybe internet research or reading articles will affect your therapy choice. A medical professional may suggest a certain therapy that sways your decision.

When deciding on a treatment or therapy, there are several things to consider. Consider the functioning level or ability of the person. For example, are they verbal or non-verbal? What are their cognitive abilities? Take into account behavioral issues such as anxiety and sensory issues or medical issues. Decide what goals you have for your child. Some examples of goals would be increasing independence, acquiring social skills in order to make friends, learning to print, or controlling meltdowns.

You also have to look at the impact a treatment or therapy might have on the family. What involvement is expected from you or other members of your family? Make sure you can commit to a treatment for whatever time it takes or is recommended. I see lots of parents try the gluten-free/casein free diet without considering the time, cost and preparation involved in such a diet. If your child is in a day home, the caregiver may not be able to prepare a special meal just for your child. Consider what the effects will be if a therapy is not successful or has to be abandoned.

Assess what the cost of a therapy/treatment will be. See if your health insurance plan will cover the costs and check if there is government funding available. Before trying any treatment, do some research to see if there is scientific evidence to support its effectiveness. Try to find case studies or clinical trials to read. There are lots of claims about therapies or treatments that dramatically change the course of autism, but many of these claims are not true and prey upon the vulnerability of parents.

When choosing a provider for a therapy or treatment, check if the professional has worked with people who have ASD. Ask what age group they have worked with. If the treatment is not autism-specific, ask if it has been proven effective for those with an ASD. Make sure the person who is prescribing a treatment or therapy knows the person’s medical history, past treatments and therapies tried, allergies and food intolerances, and co-morbid conditions such as seizures or a dual diagnosis such as ADHD.

In the early days as a new parent of children with autism, I often jumped on different treatment “bandwagons” because I was willing to try anything if someone said it could work. I wasted a lot of money, energy, and time chasing treatments that were unfounded and had no effect on autism. I didn’t take into account my personal situation, time constraints, or the fact that I had 2 children to deal with for any therapy I tried. Two was double the work, time and money. The bottom line is, you have to do what is right for your family and not be influenced by what another family is doing or what the media is highlighting. Sure – ask other families what is working for them, but be prepared to adapt for your situation. Don’t be afraid to say no to a suggestion from a professional if you know you can’t make it work. A parent has the final word to say what is right for them.

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