“A child with autism (three years old) pointing to the fish in an aquarium.” The photo demonstrates a controlled randomized test by Kasari, Stephanny Freeman and Tanya Paparella to determine whether intensive training in sharing attention (in this case, pointing at fish) and pretend playing can lay the groundwork for the acquisition of language skills and subsequent normal development. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hi and welcome to Ask Missy Mondays where I answer a question from a reader. Today’s question comes from a mom with a newly diagnosed child on the autism spectrum. She is searching for answers at all hours of the night. Marie says,
“Hi Missy, I am very new to this autism thing. I have heard that children with autism can get better–even lose the diagnosis completely. Is this true or is this some quackery to get me to buy something I cannot afford? Where can I read more about this treatment and how do I know if it’s real?”
Hi Marie and thanks for stopping by the blog. You are not being sold “quackery”. The truth is that children with autism CAN recover–even lose the diagnosis. I have written about this before (here, here, and here), which is probably how you found this blog.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is the only treatment that has been proven to help children recover from autism. Dr. Lovaas is best known for his study describing the improvements of almost half the children who received the treatment. Other scientists have replicated his research with similar outcomes. Unfortunately, scientists do not yet know which children will recover, only that some recover.
We do know that intervention must start early, it must be intense (40 hours of therapy per week), and that it must last for 2 years or more. We also know that therapy must address all areas of development including speech and language, social and emotional skills, gross and fine motor, self-help and adaptive skills, as well as academic skills.
ABA is an appropriate treatment for children with autism. In fact, 32 states have legislation requiring certain types of insurance to cover ABA therapy. Check
out this resource to see if your state is included.
You may also find some of the work by Dr. Fein helpful. She has no association with ABA whatsoever and she has published several papers on this topic as well.
Finally, we know that many children on the autism spectrum are sick. The illnesses include GI disease, food allergies, mitochondrial disorders, and other things. Thus, in addition to using ABA to teach your child, you will need to include medical support to address any underlying medical condition that your child may have.
I am sorry that your child has been diagnosed but I hope that you will pursue active treatment as soon as you possibly can.
If you have a question email askmissy at applied behavioral strategies dot com.