Diagnosis and Treatment of Autism
Children Diagnosed with Autism
After an extensive evaluation, the developmental-behavioral pediatrician meets with the parents or caregivers to discuss the diagnosis and next steps.
Parent education is a vital part of these appointments; not only in explaining the assessment and diagnosis, but also to set realistic expectations for their child and help the parents learn how to work with their child. These recommendations may include any of the following before a treatment plan is recommended:
- Further evaluation with other specialists for therapeutic intervention (physical, occupational and /or speech therapy);
- Hearing and/or vision assessments
- Community resource referrals
- Laboratory tests, X-rays and MRIs
- Various counseling and behavior management techniques
The goal is always to understand each child’s strengths and needs, to determine what is typical and what is not, and to access services to help a child develop to the best of his or her ability. People succeed in life when they learn how to build on their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses. A developmental-behavioral pediatrician strives to help children with special needs do the same.
Treatment Options for Children with Autism
Therapies can help children with autism develop more socially-appropriate behaviors, succeed academically and communicate more effectively. It also provides more appropriate stimulation to the developing brain.
Your developmental-behavioral pediatrician will help you determine the best course of action. Early intervention with intensive therapy has proven to work the best.
Specific treatment options include:
- ABA-Based Interventions - for individuals affected by a wide range of behavioral and developmental disorders (30+ hours of early intensive interventional sessions per week may be recommended).
- Discrete Trial Training (DTT)- a specific type of applied behavior analysis that instructs a child to do something and provides rewards and consequences for a correct or incorrect response.
- Pivotal Response Teaching ;(PRT) - a method that uses naturalistic and motivational procedures to foster communication and play behaviors.
- Incidental Teaching - Applied Verbal Behavior (AVB) - teaches correct verbal behavior through a collection of highly effective teaching procedures.
- Dietary Treatments
- Feeding Therapy - many children with autism have oral sensitivities to the taste and texture of foods. If these habits are not interrupted, they can lead to malnutrition and, at times, the need for a feeding tube.
- Prescription Medications
- While no magic drug can fully correct the repetitive behavior, communication or social challenges of autism, they are sometimes effective in treating the symptoms and behaviors that make it difficult for individuals with autism to function at home, school or work.
- Other Interventions & Therapies
- Speech therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Music therapy
Length of Treatment
The length of treatment for autism will depend on the child's needs and their progress. Parents can start the process early and self-refer by contacting AzEIP at (888) 439-5609 or their local school district for early interventional testing.
Long-term Outcomes for an Autistic Child
There is such a range of severity in children with autism (also known as autistic spectrum disorders), that it is hard to predict how they'll function as an older child and into adulthood. What we do know is that the earlier in life a child is diagnosed, the sooner that child will receive treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment has proven to be effective. How well a child does in treatment can depend on their intellectual ability. Studies show that children with autism who have an average to above average intellect have a better prognosis than children with greater intellectual disabilities. So, treatment and therapy outcomes will vary. Our outcomes goal is to show improvement in your child's language, social and self-help skills as well as help the child function well in a typical school classroom environment.