Autism Treatment Service Options

Depending on the individual needs of your child, a variety of treatment options are available. In this section of our Web site, you’ll find a descriptive list of options available at facilities throughout the country. Talk to your doctor about the treatment service, or services, that are right for your child. In some cases, you may find yourself exploring different options until you find the one that’s right for you and your family.

Outpatient / In-Home Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Services
Outpatient / In-home applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the least restrictive level of care that can be used to treat persons on the Spectrum experiencing emotional, behavioral, psychiatric, school and family challenges while living at home. Skilled professionals can help families implement structured programming through elements such as predictable routines, visual activity schedules and clear physical boundaries to facilitate development and learning. Education and support are provided to families to implement interventions so individuals can work on generalizing skills learned and maintain functional use of these skills in the home every day. By empowering family members, family distress is reduced.

Summer Camps
Summer camp programs allow children and adolescents the opportunity to strengthen their peer relationship skills in a social setting enriched with fun, educational activities. Additionally, summer camps can remedy the lack of structure during summer vacations that can present a significant problem for children with autism.

Day Schools
The Day School setting offers individualized academic and behavioral interventions during the traditional school day and after which children return to their home. Each school’s assessment based curriculum maximizes social-emotional reciprocity, communication skills, attending skills and cognitive processing.

Partial Hospitalization Services
This level of care is also known as day treatment. This level of care is typically recommended when a person’s clinical needs are greater than an outpatient program or other outpatient provider’s ability to manage the needs. Additionally, it is appropriate when the person’s clinical needs are not significant enough to justify a residential or an inpatient level of care. These programs typically run from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. All participants do not stay overnight and do not attend on weekends. Participants generally get full clinical program benefits including education needs, individual therapy, group therapy, recreation therapy, psychiatric consultations, treatment team presentation and activity therapy.

Intensive Residential Treatment Services
There may come a time when a person on the Spectrum whose challenges cannot be met in the community requires an intensive continuum of care environment that is supervised 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Intensive residential treatment services address problems through three different areas of influence: clinical treatment; the classroom; and the therapeutic milieu, or living environment.

The Acute Inpatient Treatment Program
Acute inpatient treatment services provide intervention and stabilization during a brief inpatient stay (3-5 days, 24 hours per day) to allow the patient to make a rapid transition to less restrictive levels of care. This addresses a variety of emotional, behavioral and psychological problems which interfere with successful functioning at home, at school or in the community.

Behavior Improvement System Guided by Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Overseen by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
Each program uses empirically supported, evidence-based interventions to maximize each person’s quality of life by addressing the core autism spectrum disorder features identified as needing improvement. Ongoing measurement and documentation of the individual’s progress towards educational/treatment objectives allows for program adjustments to ensure that each individual increases their functional independence. In most programs, a board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA) completes a thorough evaluation including a functional behavior assessment (FBA) that leads to the development of an individualized behavior intervention plan (BIP). Sample treatment strategies are used to teach the skills needed to be successful in the home, school and community setting, including: reinforcement procedures (e.g. token economy systems, level systems, reinforcement schedule); social skills training (e.g. video modeling, social stories, role playing); natural environment training (NET), structured teaching (discrete trial training), incidental teaching; prompting procedures (e.g. least to most, errorless learning) and the use of visual supports (e.g. cues, schedules).

Treatment Programs

On-site Education Program
These programs implement an assessment-based curriculum that addresses social skills, including joint attention, reciprocal interaction, initiation and self management. Low student-to-teacher ratios are recommended to allow for one-on-one time and small group instruction to meet specific individualized goals as identified in each student’s individualized education plan (IEP).

Related Services Including Physical, Occupational, Speech and Language
Licensed therapists work in close collaboration with teachers, support personnel and families to teach functional adaptive skills that prepare the individual for increased functional communication, development of self care skills, responsibility and independence.

Management of Associated Medical Issues and Coexisting Mental Health Conditions
In order to optimize functional outcomes and improve each person’s quality of life, the whole person should be treated. The multidisciplinary treatment plans (MTP) are the primary therapeutic tools used to document treatment interventions and goals. Psychiatrists generally meet each week with behavior analysts (BCBA), nurses, school principal, director of clinical services, and the program manager to review each portion of an individual’s MTP to monitor the progress and make changes accordingly.

Pharmacological Interventions
Associate maladaptive behaviors or psychiatric comorbidities may interfere with educational progress, socialization, health and safety, and quality of life. On a case-by-case basis, certain behaviors may respond positively to psychopharmacological interventions when overseen by psychiatrists.

Nutritional Services
Registered dieticians can ensure that each person is afforded a well balanced nutritional plan. For individuals with food sensitivities, dieticians can work closely to identify which foods may have a positive or negative effect and make the necessary dietary adjustments.

Family Support
Because families play such a key role in effective treatment, we encourage parents to monitor their own emotional and physical health. Provide support to your family by educating them about ASDs; choose programs and services that provide training and involve you as co-therapist; assist you in obtaining resources; assist you in advocating for your child’s and his/her siblings’ needs and provide counseling referrals. Autism spectrum disorders are not “curable” and most children with ASD remain on the spectrum as adults. Choose treatment partners that will help you prepare and plan for independent living, employment, social relationships and mental health issues as the child gets older.

Screenings and Evaluations
Each program’s interdisciplinary team should take the time to thoroughly review all available previous clinical and educational records, and evaluations. Professionals should also examine all areas related to the person’s needs including hearing, vision, health, dietary, general intelligence, psychological, academic and classroom performance, communicative status, motor abilities, sensory integration and social / emotional status. Through thoughtful collaboration with each discipline, a professional should be provided to determine which specific evaluations are necessary to further complete the standardized assessment process. Specific Autism diagnostic tools such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), Autism Diagnostic Interview (ADI-R) and many other rating scales are typically used as a part of this evaluation.

Recreation Therapies
Recreation therapy utilizes structured activities designed to assist each individual in developing and maintaining physical, leisure and social skills. Activities are designed to increase self-esteem, improve positive self-expression, encourage healthy personal interests and increase self-confidence. Activities typically include structured team games, horticulture, arts and crafts, and structured outings. Recreational therapy can offer opportunities for reciprocal turn-taking, shared attention, social reciprocity, sustained interaction, spontaneous giving and showing, and imitation of novel acts.