Autism Spectrum Disorder

Is Autism a Treatable Condition?

There is much debate and disagreement about whether it is possible for a child to recover from a diagnosis of autism. There is also varying views on what constitutes recovery.

The first use of the term “Best Outcome” was in the seminal research study by Dr Ivar Lovaas at the UCLA Young Autism Project. Lovaas (1987) reported on a subgroup of children who progressed sufficiently with intensive early behavioral treatment that their IQ’s improved to the normal range, they were successful in mainstream classrooms without supports and were indistinguishable from their neurotypical peers.

Later studies have also used these criteria to define best outcome of children in their treatment programs. It is possible that children reaching this best outcome criteria may still have some quirks or have some very minor deficits that would not be able to be observed by a lay person. These children might go on to university, have successful careers and have meaningful long term relationships.

In order to achieve the best outcome, it is important to set high expectations. But we should also be realistic, because the research shows that many children with autism will continue to have at least some continuing challenges in adulthood. Fortunately most children who receive quality intensive early intervention will greatly improve their long term quality of life, even those who are not able to enter into general education classes.

Autism Partnership firmly believes that every child deserves the opportunity to obtain their own best outcome, contribute to society, and have happy, meaningful lives. This is the objective for all the children we treat.

What is the right treatment for your child?

Parenting a child with autism can present many challenges and one of them is searching for the right treatment.

Every year there are new treatments proclaimed to be highly effective in treating individuals with autism, or professional interpretations and suggestions, anecdotal reports from parents, and drugs and medications claiming to cure autism, yet most lack the scientific rigor and long term testing to support the claims. Whether a treatment has been widely tested and proven in rigorous scientific research is extremely crucial in the choice of treatment. As a result, parents must critically evaluate and scrutinize treatment options, inquire whether there is credible scientific evidence supporting a treatment’s claim of effectiveness, and look at what really works and select a treatment that has a proven track record.

Critical Questions to ask when researching treatment options:

  1. What is the treatment program’s rationale and purpose?
  2. Is there written information?
  3. What is involved for the child and family?
  4. What is the length of treatment, frequency of sessions, time and costs to the family?
  5. Does the treatment focus on one skill or is it a comprehensive program?
  6. Will the treatment result in harm to the child?
  7. Is the treatment developmentally appropriate?
  8. What is the background and training experience of the staff?
  9. Does the treatment staff allow input from the family?
  10. Are assessment procedures specified and is the program individualized for each child?
  11. How will progress be measured?
  12. How often will effectiveness of the intervention be evaluated?
  13. Who will conduct the evaluation?
  14. What criteria will be used to determine if treatment should be continued or abandoned?
  15. What scientific evidence supports the effectiveness of the program?
  16. How will failure of treatment affect the child and family?
  17. How will treatment be integrated into the child’s current program?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has the most extensive and highest quality of research studies and has been repeatedly demonstrated as a highly effective treatment for children. There is no other treatment that has such a substantial record of empirical investigation.