Treating Children on the Autism Spectrum

Are you confused about all the different therapy methods for children on the autism spectrum? Which one is right for your child? Which one is right for your family? How do you decide? 

In the arena of communication alone, there are abundant methods that are grounded in science and research for children on the autism spectrum. Many of these approaches are touted as ‘the answer.’ And, many of these approaches appear to be diametrically opposed.

For example, you may have heard of...

  • Alternative or Augmentative Communication Device [AAC]

  • Applied Behavior Analysis [ABA]

  • Developmental, Individual-Difference, Relationship-Based Approach DIR/Floortime [DIR]

  • Picture Exchange Communication System [PECS]

  • Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonemic Targets [PROMPT]

  • Relationship Development Intervention [RDI]

  • Sign Language

  • Social Stories

  • Son-Rise

  • Treatment and Education of Autistic and Communication-related Handicapped Children [TEACCH]

  • Verbal Behavior Training [VBT]

  • and on… and on… and on…

So many methods, so little time. How do you choose?

Maybe you don’t! Maybe you work together with your speech language pathologist to construct a treatment plan that mixes elements from a variety of methods to achieve the results you are seeking. Maybe that plan merges the ingredients of a variety of techniques to create a plan for communication success.

There are significant advantages to a blended approach to speech therapy. Children can learn different skills through varied techniques, stretching their flexibility muscle: a child can learn to be independent and interact simultaneously; a child can learn to lead and be led. Family members can join together with different natural styles to contribute to communication success. 

It’s not easy. Most of the treatment approaches are designed to ‘stand alone.’ Training may be expensive and time consuming and it takes a commitment to understand the underlying tenets of just one. Experienced, skilled and thoughtful speech language pathologists can mix therapy methods looking for harmonious coexistence within a therapy plan. They can work with you to continually revise that plan, taking cues from your child and seeing what works.