Interventions and Treatments

Children with ASD comprise a growing population. Like other children with disabilities, their services are provided through publicly funded programs.

The National Academy of Sciences gathered a Committee on Educational Interventions for Children with Autism to address early intervention, preschool, and school programs for children with autism from birth to age 8. The committee report contains findings and conclusions about the current state of knowledge, policy issues, and compelling research needs. In their final publication, Educating Children with Autism (National Academy Press, 2001), the committee advocated several vital components, such as

  • implementing early intervention as soon as an autism spectrum disorder is seriously considered
  • including intensive instructional programming - a minimum of a full school day, at least 5 days (25 hours)/week, throughout the year
  • utilizing repeated teaching that is organized around brief intervals with individual and very small group instructions
  • including a family component

More research has been conducted which shows that early intervention is a key component to improved outcomes for children with ASD. A study by Dawson, et al (2010), reported that an intensive early intervention program is effective for improving IQ, language ability, and social interaction. Along with the intensive early intervention, parents also provided these services in their homes. Teaching parents to provide early intervention in the home is likely an important component of improving the outcomes of children with ASD.

In order for intervention to be provided early and appropriately, children with needs must be identified and referred. Routine validated screening helps providers move toward this goal and mirrors the committee's emphasis on the central role of the family in meeting the needs of children with developmental disabilities.