Pediatrician Questions Pediatrician

What is the best treatment for autism?

My daughter was diagnosed with autism. What is the best treatment for autism?

1 Answer

The best treatment for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are behavioral and educational interventions — The importance of early intensive behavioral and educational interventions in improving outcomes for children with ASD is well documented. Most of the research has focused on early-preschool and school-age children. There is less robust information about the efficacy of treatment programs in children younger than two years or in adolescents. No single therapy has proven to be most effective. However, certain therapies have more data to support their efficacy than others.
Core features of successful autism educational programs include:

●A high staff-to-student ratio (1:1 or 1:2)

●Individualized programming for each child

●Teachers with special expertise in working with children with autism

●A minimum of 25 hours per week of services

●Ongoing program evaluation and adjustment

●A curriculum emphasizing attention, imitation, communication, play, social interaction, regulation, and self-advocacy

●A highly supportive teaching environment

●Predictability and structure

●Functional analysis of behavior problems

●Transition planning

●Family involvement

●Close monitoring and modification as the child's needs change

Psychopharmacologic interventions — Psychotropic medications often are used in children with ASD to treat targeted symptoms including:

●Hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity

●Aggression, outbursts, and self-injury


●Obsessive-compulsive behaviors, rigidity, and repetitive behaviors

●Depressive symptoms

●Sleep dysfunction

Psychopharmacologic interventions do not treat the underlying ASD. However, they can improve the child's functioning and the ability to participate in behavioral interventions.

Michael J. Olek, DO
Associate Professor of Neurology
Touro University Nevada
College of Osteopathic Medicine874 American Pacific DriveHenderson, NV 89014