Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Autism Spectrum Disorders Health Center

Font Size

Caution Urged for Autism Treatments

Researchers Say 'Fad Therapies' for Autism Are on the Rise

Autism Treatment: What Works? continued...

The goal of these types of programs is to reinforce desirable behavior and decrease undesirable ones. For instance, the child is taught to perform tasks in a series of simple steps and is given a predictable schedule. The treatment is continued at home.

"Occupational therapy is often given in combination," Mulick says.

The downside of the behavior therapy, he says, is its expense. At Columbus Children's Hospital, for instance, he estimates the cost of behavior therapy for autism is about $65,000 a year -- and it's typically not covered by insurance.

For specific symptoms, medication may help, Mulick says. For instance, the FDA approved Risperdal in 2006 for the treatment of irritability in children and teens with autism. Short attention spans can sometimes be improved, he says, with stimulant drugs.

Other Views

Not everyone agrees with Mulick that behavioral therapy and medication are the primary routes to go for treating autistic children. Julie Buckley, MD, says some treatments termed fads by Mulick "are not fads and are in fact effective." Buckley is a member of the scientific advisory board for the National Autism Association, an organization launched by parents and based in Nixa, Mo.

"There is a great deal of [scientific] literature showing the GFCF diet works," Buckley tells WebMD. ''The process of detoxification, whether by chelation or other means is -- case report by case report -- showing itself to be of tremendous benefit to many children."

She's not aware of published scientific studies on facilitated communication or dolphin therapy, she says. But she has seen auditory integration work for children. In her practice near Jacksonville, Fla., Buckley says she uses a variety of "alternative" methods to help her young patients with autism.

Another organization, Cure Autism Now, notes on its web site that early intervention with behavioral education, special education, family support, and medications can all help a child with autism. Regarding alternative therapies, it says "there also are a number of alternative therapies available for children with autism. However, few have been supported by scientific studies. Parents should research the providers and the treatment before beginning a course of non-traditional therapy."

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

girl at window
Symptoms within the first 2 years of a child’s life.
boy playing a violin
How is this condition similar to autism?
Mother and daughter indoors playing
Play therapy may undo the disorder in at-risk babies.
preschool age girl sitting at desk
What causes this rare form of autism?
High Functioning Autism And Asperge Syndrome
Gluten Free Diet Slideshow
Mother and daughter indoors playing
man on bicycle
girl at window
Mother hugging teenage son
Understanding Rett Syndrome
Home Care Tips

WebMD Special Sections