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Complexities of Autism Extend to Its Treatment
Date:5/27/2011

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, May 27 (HealthDay News) -- Parents of children with autism often find themselves struggling to make sense of their child's behavior.

What's worse, there's no single best way to treat the frightening and frustrating neurodevelopmental disorder. Children might have a mix of social impairments, communication problems and repetitive behavior patterns. Each child will require a certain blend of therapies, treatments and interventions, all specifically tailored to the child's particular behavioral problems.

"Every person with autism is different," said Lee Grossman, president and chief executive of the Autism Society. "There's a saying, 'If you've met one person with autism, then you've met one person with autism.'"

That means parents usually have to figure it out for themselves, with help from their medical team.

Experts agree on two basic principles when it comes to treating people with autism, according to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health:

  • Early intervention is key to helping a child with autism find a healthy, happy and satisfying life.
  • People with autism respond best to programs and therapies that are highly structured and specialized to their needs.

"The earlier the child is diagnosed, and the better the quality and quantity of the programs they are in, the better their prognosis long-term," said James Ball, president and chief executive of JB Autism Consulting, in New Jersey, and chairman of the Autism Society's board of directors.

Many of the leading therapy options for autism are not medical and instead involve education and behavioral intervention.

Ball said that a type of behavioral therapy called applied behavioral analysis, which focuses on teaching useful skills that build upon each other, has helped many children with autism.

"It teaches things repetitively so a child can learn and then g
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