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What's the Best Treatment for Autism?


Updated June 01, 2009

Question: What's the Best Treatment for Autism?
What is the best treatment for autism?
Answer: The frustrating truth is, there is no gold standard for autism treatment. Unlike many other conditions, the causes of autism are poorly understood. What's more, each person with autism displays a different set different physical, emotional, behavioral and social issues. To make the situation even tougher, up until less than 20 years ago, autism was a rare disorder and received relatively little attention from the medical community.

As of now, there are a grand total of two treatments which have been "scientifically proven" to be effective for people with autism. The first, Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), is a non-medical therapeutic approach. It has been studied carefully for decades and is relatively easy to study, as it has very measurable goals. The second is an antipsychotic medication called Risperdal (risperidone): the first and only medication to be specifically approved for use in autism. Of course, ABA and/or Risperdal are neither cure-alls nor are they right for every person with autism.

If science can't tell you which is the best treatment for autism, how do you know where to start? Most autistic children receive at least speech, physical and occupational therapies - and most children receive those therapies free of charge through school districts or regional service organizations. Once you've set up those services, it's time to dig deeper into what's avaiable, what you can afford, and what you and your child's doctors and therapists believe may be most beneficial in your particular circumstances.


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