After a child has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, parents are often at a loss as to where to go or what to do next. It is important that parents are informed about treatment choices and utilize empirically supported interventions in order to provide the child with the best possible outcome. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is a research-supported approach to intervention that focuses on improving positive behaviors while extinguishing negative behaviors.
There has been bad press regarding ABA therapy such as that the focus of the therapy is solely on punishment. In reality, ABA therapy focuses on positive reinforcement of behaviors with a minimal use of punishment. Punishment of any kind should only be implemented in specific situations in which the child is in danger of hurting himself for someone else. The amount of ABA therapy varies and is completely dependent upon the child’s needs.
Therapy is often implemented in the home, school, and clinic settings. Oftentimes children with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder present with language concerns; either expressive language (ability to express themselves) and/or pragmatic language (which is their social language). These children often benefit from speech and language therapy in order to develop these skill sets. It is also quite common for children with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder to present sensory concerns; either they avoid certain sensory modalities or actively seek out various sensory inputs. Occupational Therapy can often help provide strategies for children, parents, and academic staff as to how to better deal and cope with these sensory concerns.
The treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder cannot be done in isolation. The majority of children with such a diagnosis would require a multidisciplinary treatment approach. It is vital that all care providers are on the same page and meet routinely to ensure that the child is making progress.