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Autism Spectrum Disorders Health Center

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Parenting a Child With Autism

Treatment for Children With Autism

Child development experts agree that a child with autism should receive treatment as soon after diagnosis as possible. There is no cure for autism, but early intervention using skills-training and behavior modification can yield excellent results. This type of educational and behavioral treatment tackles autism symptoms -- impaired social interaction, communication problems, and repetitive behaviors. It can also boost the chances of a child with child autism being able to go to school and participate in typical activities.

Other treatment options for children with autism include:

  • Medication. Doctors sometimes prescribe it for children with autism if they have other symptoms, including depression, anxiety, seizures, or hyperactivity.
  • Alternative therapies. These might include vitamin treatments, changes in diet, and a procedure called "chelation" that attempts to remove heavy metals from the blood. Although many parents insist these types of treatment work, researchers have not scientifically proven them effective for children with autism, either for symptoms or long-term outcomes. Chelation, in particular, is dangerous and and should be avoided. Deaths have been associated with this type of therapy. You should always discuss the safety and effectiveness of any alternative treatments with your doctor before trying them.


Help for Parents of Children With Autism

If you have a child with autism, it is important to get support. The day-to-day care of children with autism can be stressful. Making sure your child gets the help he or she needs can also pose a challenge, depending on whether quality support services are available in your area. At the same time, you are likely to have ongoing worries about your child's prognosis and long-term well being. For all these reasons, you need to take care of yourself, as well as your child. Make an effort to reach out and find the support you need.

  • Educate yourself. Learn all you can. Read about children with autism in other sections of this Web site. Consult governmental and nonprofit organizations for more information on children with autism. Stay up to date on current research findings, and make sure you are looking at reputable sources of information.
  • Build a support system. Seek out local groups and parent network organizations for families of children with autism. Ask your physician or child developmental specialist for referrals. Join online chat groups for parents of children with autism. 
  • Make time for yourself and your relationships. Try to schedule regular dates with your partner and outings with friends. Keep up with the activities you enjoy.
  • Get help. Seek help if you or your partner is feeling persistently overwhelmed or depressed, or the stress of caring for a disabled child is affecting your relationship. Your health care provider can help you find a qualified individual, couples, or family therapist.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Alan G Weintraub, MD on May 12, 2013

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