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Getting Treatment for Your Child

separator Treatment for autism generally focuses on teaching children many of the basic things that most of us take for granted. For example, a child with autism may laugh at a child who is crying and not have any idea why that reaction is unacceptable. Part of that child’s treatment would be to explain to them, over and over, that when someone is crying, they’re probably sad. An autistic child might not understand what “sad” means, so an additional component of the treatment would be explaining what sadness is. Another part of the treatment would be to try to get the autistic child to learn to recognize what a said face looks like, because people with autism often are unable to understand what facial expressions mean.

This one small example may help you to understand how complex the treatment for autism can be. Teachers and other specialists have to break down the child’s behavior one tiny bit at a time, and then address all the myriad issues from many different angles.

For parents, finding reliable, effective programs for their autistic children can be challenging. This is crucial, because research shows that effective, early intervention that lasts for at least two years during the pre-school age can result in improved outcomes for children with autism.

Questions parents should ask treatment providers
Here’s a list of questions from the National Institute of Mental Health for parents of autistic children. It can be extremely difficult to know how to evaluate special programs for your child, so this list may be helpful:

  • How successful has your program been for other children?
  • How many of the children from your program continue on to normal schools? How well do they do in those schools?
  • How much experience does the staff have in the treatment of children and adolescents with autism?
  • Are your daily schedules and routines predictable?
  • How much individual attention will my child receive?
  • How do you measure progress? Will you be monitoring my child’s behavior closely?
  • Will you give my child tasks and rewards that are personally motivating?
  • Does your environment minimize distractions?
  • Will your program prepare me to continue therapy at home?

Being the parent of a child with autism is a never-ending job. To be successful, you have to constantly keep up with the latest information, not to mention all of the work you need to do with your child at home on an ongoing basis. Consider joining a support group in your area so that you can connect with other parents of autistic children. Their input and experience can be invaluable as you learn to navigate this new territory.

The National Institute of Mental Health; The New York Times, Science Times Section, “Lifting the Veils of Autism, One by One,” 24 February 2004;
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