What do parents need to know about autism therapy? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly one in 54 American children has an autism diagnosis. If your child is newly diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (or ASD), take a look at the top therapy-related questions parents have.
When Should a Child Start Therapy?
There's no time like the present. While there's no cure for ASD, therapy can help to reduce some of the symptoms and help children living with autism to make significant behavioral, communication, and other changes. Early intervention services that start in the toddler or preschool years can help children to develop new behaviors and learn skills as they emerge—instead of correcting existing ones.
Is It Too Late For a Child To Start Therapy?
Simply stated, no. Even though intervention services are most effective when started early (before age five), your child is never too old for therapy. Therapy in later childhood or adolescence is preferable over doing nothing. While an older child may have to work harder to correct or revise existing challenging behaviors, therapy has benefits at any age.
What Types of Therapy Are Available?
Your child is an individual. This means your child may or may not have success with the type of therapy that works for someone else. Autism behavior therapy, such as Applied Behavior Analysis ABA), is available in a few different forms. Discrete Trial Training (DTT), Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI), and the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) are options to explore with a professional. Along with ABA, some children can benefit from occupational therapy, speech therapy, and physical therapy.
How Can a Child Start Therapy?
The first step is finding the right therapist or behavioral health professional. Start with the medical provider who recently diagnosed your child. This person is either the type of professional who also provides behavioral/therapeutic services or someone who can offer a referral.
Where Does Therapy Happen?
Therapy doesn't always happen in the same place. Again, your child is an individual. The therapeutic environment may vary depending on the child and their needs. If you choose ABA services, you will need to find a board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA). Your child may also need a pediatric therapist or other behavioral/medical professionals.
BCBA's and therapists work in private clinics, doctor's offices, and other similar mental health/healthcare settings. Beyond the help your child gets from a BCBA, they may also need intervention services at daycare or school (depending on their age) or at-home therapy from an occupational, physical, or speech therapist.