What works? We have already talked about the differences among children with different Autism Spectrum Disorders, and by now, we hope, you don’t expect that there is any one solution that will work for all children. In the limited time we have available, we are going to discuss four methods.
- Applied Behavior Analysis has the most research support.
- Sensory Integration – has less research support and I originally was very skeptical. However, I have become more convinced about the effectiveness of this method not so much from the practitioners themselves – after all, who is going to say that the method they use is illogical and stupid – but from adults with Autism who can describe how sensory integration has helped.
- Social stories and comics (no, we don’t mean like X-Men)
- Environmental changes
Let’s start with Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) ….
The good news: ABA has been reported to work for up to 40% of children who, in some studies have shown a 20 point increase in IQ and the ability to attend school in regular classrooms.
The bad news: ABA requires intensive work – most programs have 30-40 hours of intensive therapy each week in a clinic or preschool and expect parents also to participate in the same schedule of reinforcements and punishments at home.
More bad news: ABA should be done with a certified therapist. Please consult a psychologist before designing an Applied Behavior Analysis Plan for a student.
The good news: A psychologist can help you design an ABA plan for a student and if your school does not have a school psychologist, you should require a consultation with a psychologist to help you design a plan for the child.
Just as we said about speech pathologists, children who have a disability need assistance from specialists and if there is not one locally or easily available, then one needs to be found. If your child has a kidney disease, no one says,
“We don’t have a physician that is available. We don’t have any scalpels or operating tables , either. However, Sadie Trottier is a nurse. Let’s just clear off that table over there and let her try the surgery using these kitchen knives.”
What would you say? You’d say anyone who suggested such a thing was insane. Sadie is probably a wonderful nurse and will do a great job changing dressings, administering medication and helping your child in recovery from surgery. Get a specialist involved when you need one.