The ABCs of Autism

How Is It Treated?

Thanks to greater awareness among parents and doctors, autism is being recognized sooner, which means therapies can be started earlier, increasing these kids' chances for a rich life. Almost 30 percent of kids who get intervention by age 2 or 3 make significant gains in speech and IQ and may even attend a regular classroom.

To assess autism, a psychologist, neurologist, or developmental pediatrician will observe the child and interview the patients. Treatment typically involves at least one other specialist: a speech therapist, occupational therapist, or behavioral therapist (who teaches skills by breaking things down into small steps and reinforcing proper behavior with a reward, such as a video or playtime) -- or maybe all three.

But parents are the real leaders of a child's intervention team. They're the ones teaching all the time, using everyday life experiences, says Dr. Powers. Serving dishes may be set just out of reach at mealtime, for example, so a child must ask for food. According to Dr. Powers, some parents become so good at engineering the environment to create teaching opportunities that it's almost like art.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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