Effective Autism Treatment is a Team Effort.
A beautiful 3 year old little boy still is not talking. He doesn't play with toys but spins wheels and likes to watch ceiling fans spin 'round and 'round. Try as they may, his parents just can't get him to smile or look them in the eyes. After a few appointments with their pediatrician, a speech pathologist, and psychologist as well as Help Me Grow and their local school district they learn their son has autism. Now what? They hear about ABA (applied behavioral analysis), Floortime, special diets, therapies, preschool and medications. What to do where to go how does a parent decide which one to choose?
Well, we know from good research and practice that in order for a child with autism to have the best possible chance an entire team must be involved in their care. Children with autism have many needs: communication, sensory, motor, academic, behavioral, and medical. Therefore a team of highly knowledgeable people must be used to support the child and his family. This group should consist of at least:
- Parent/caregiver who knows their child better than a parent or caregiver
- Speech language pathologist to address communication and social skills deficits
- Occupational therapist to help with fine motor and sensory difficulties
- Physical therapist tackle gross motor and coordination concerns
- School district to provide individualized academic and therapeutic interventions
- Mental health provider (psychologist, psychiatrist, etc) to help address behavioral concerns and other mental health diagnoses that may exist
- Physician to provide medical care, diagnostic testing, and medication if appropriate
- Social worker/case manager to aid the family is finding funding sources and coordinating services
Additional members of the team may come and go depending on the services a child needs. As the child gets older the family may require respite services or in-home care. Mom and dad may seek out the care and support of a parent support group. These will be new members to the team and support the child/family in a new way. The important thing to remember is that it truly takes all of these individuals to provide the care that a child with autism needs.
Oh, and that little 3 year old boy he is now 1. He had a great team over the years and he is looking forward to high school. He still has good days and challenging days but is very successful when the challenges come. He has friends, loves his family, and learns something new every day at school and he remembers every person who was part of his team since he was 3 years old!