Autism is a neurological condition that impacts an individual's social / communication skills and presents with fixed interests and repetitive behaviors in the individual. These symptoms can exist on a "spectrum" from mild to severe; for instance, one child may have major communication delays and engage in repetitive hand / body movements; another may have difficulty with back-and-forth conversation and perspective taking, and be intensely fixated on an interest area. Because it is a broad spectrum, effective treatment must be highly individualized to the learner's strengths and abilities.
Individuals with Autism often engage with and experience the world differently. They may be more interested in sensory aspects of the environment, may feel more comfortable in rigid and consistent routines, and may have different preferences for play and socialization. They may have very intense interests in very specific topics or activities (and may even become experts on those topics!).
Autism is a spectrum disorder which means it can impact individuals in vastly different ways. Individuals with severe Autism may have trouble with daily self-care tasks, very limited communication skills, and repetitive movements such as rocking and flapping. Individuals with moderate Autism may have developed verbal language but sometimes repeat words or phrases, or engage in repetitive routines. Individuals with mild Autism may have difficulty talking about things they are not interested in, or listening to a differing opinion, understanding metaphors and figures of speech, or have difficulties with focus and organization.
Often, individuals with Autism can learn to be flexible, explore different interests and routines, and communicate more efficiently; but it is important to respect the abilities, strengths and individuality of people with Autism!
Applied Behavior Analysis may be a great treatment option for individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder who would benefit from gaining communication skills, learning activities of daily living, social skill development, play skill development, and coping skills. A Behavior Analyst would develop a Functional Assessment of challenging behaviors and client strengths, and utilize this to develop a Treatment Plan to include evidence based principles to shape behaviors.
An individual with Autism may also benefit from traditional therapy models including Family, Child and Teen, Group, and Individual therapies. The therapist would work with the individual to identify unique goals to address in sessions in a style best suited to the learner's strengths and abilities.
Because Autism impacts the whole body, other considerations such as Medication Management and Dietician Services may be indicated to assist with cognitive symptoms and gastrointestinal challenges common to individuals with Autism.