Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) affect the ability of a person to communicate and interact with the people and the world around him or her. The severity of these effects can vary widely with each autistic individual. Though there is no cure for ASDs, there are a number of programs that are designed to help someone with an autism spectrum disorder strengthen their particular areas of difficulty.

Intervention Programs

These programs, called interventions, should begin at the earliest opportunity after diagnosis. It is generally agreed that if an intervention is put into play early, its chance of having a positive effect is improved.

Techniques

These programs can use a variety of techniques, including:

  • positive reinforcement to encourage appropriate behavior or use of skills
  • breaking basic tasks into a number of simple steps to aid in understanding the task
  • providing visual cues to indicate where the student is supposed to be and what they are supposed to do in a particular situation

Some of the better known interventions are Applied Behavior Analysis (or ABA); Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship-Based Approach (also called DIR or “Floortime”); and Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication-handicapped Children (also known as TEACCH).

What program your child uses is up to you and whichever one you choose will have to be customized for your child’s particular situation.

Guidelines

The National Institute of Mental Health has provided guidelines for factors you should keep in mind when selecting a treatment program: