How Do I Choose a Treatment?

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Making a decision about what treatments to pursue with the limited amount of time and money that you have is very difficult when you consider the large number of treatments advertised on the internet and/or recommended by trained professionals, family members, and friends. So how do you make the tough choices?

The treatment(s) you choose must be based on your child’s strengths and needs. Knowing what your child needs and enjoys, and what you and your child can withstand, will help you plan a program to meet those needs and fit into the family’s schedule. It’s best to use the team of experts that you know well and trust, and that you feel knows your child well, to help with identifying the best choices.

Pursuing evidence based treatments will help ensure that the treatment you try will be safe. These treatments have gone through scientifically based research to help distinguish them from therapies that may be “fads,” experimental (and not yet proven), or, at the very worst, harmful. They have been proven effective for treating certain individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), however not every evidence based treatment works for every individual with ASD. It is therefore critical to research not only what a treatment does, but also who it is designed for and who can benefit from it. The CAR Autism Roadmap™ includes information on many evidence based treatments as well as other therapies that you may have heard of. Gather as much information about any therapy you are considering so that you can make an educated decision about what treatments to try.

When you begin a new therapy, it is important to begin one treatment at a time and wait before adding a new one. This will allow you to be able to determine if a particular treatment is working. Before you begin any new treatment, you and your child’s therapists will need to determine what outcomes you hope to achieve from the treatment. Establish your child’s “baseline” before the treatment begins. For example, if the treatment goal is to reduce your child’s aggressive behavior, you need to determine how often your child currently hits, bites, etc. Then during and after the treatment, regularly collect data to measure your child’s progress towards the outcome goals.

You will want to continually evaluate and re-evaluate treatment options. If a treatment works, that is great! If not, re-evaluate the intervention, consult with the team, and make any necessary changes.

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Last Updated: March 11, 2015

The Center for Autism Research and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia do not endorse or recommend any specific person or organization or form of treatment. The information included within the CAR Autism Roadmap™ and CAR Resource Directory™ should not be considered medical advice and should serve only as a guide to resources publicly and privately available. Choosing a treatment, course of action, and/or a resource is a personal decision, which should take into account each individual's and family's particular circumstances.


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