At present, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) cannot be cured. However, with help, many people with ASD go on to lead normal lives and even excel in numerous ways.
Many people believe that asking whether ASD can be cured implies it is a disease, and they argue it is not. It is an alternative way of thinking and perhaps does not need to be cured.
Autism Spectrum Disordercan be likened to color blindness. For example, rather than seeing green, those with color blindness might see yellow. Their eyes are different, not defective. What people see is not necessarily wrong; it is unique.
Similarly, ASD is a condition that causes some people to think differently from others. This doesn’t mean there is something wrong with their minds, just that they have an alternative way of thinking.
Can Autism Spectrum Disorder Be Treated?
Yes, most definitely! Several treatments have proven to be effective in significantly improving the functioning and quality of life for children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
- Social skills training: this is the cornerstone of treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder and it involves teaching people with ASD how to interpret nonverbal expressions. This can help them with social interactions and peer relationships and prevent the isolation and depression that often occurs with ASD. Social skills training requires someone, such as an Autism psychologist, who understands which skills are necessary and relevant.
- Psychotherapy: the goal of psychotherapy with Autism Spectrum Disorder is similar to social skills training in helping people with ASD develop greater insight into the thoughts, feelings and intentions of others, and to help develop the vocabulary to describe emotions to one’s self and to others. This helps them become more aware of how words and actions affect the thoughts of others. Psychotherapy can also address other conditions, such as depression or anxiety, which often plague those with ASD.
- Medication: There are no medications that specifically treat Autism Spectrum Disorder, but some medications may improve associated conditions, such as ADHD, mood swings, temper tantrums, irritability, aggression, obsessive and compulsive behaviors and anxiety. While Autism psychologists do not prescribe medications, they do work with physicians who are experienced with the condition and who can issue prescriptions.
- Educational Interventions: Some children with ASD cope well in a mainstream classroom with occasional support, while others need specialized education. An Autism psychologist, or other professionals familiar with ASD, can help teachers develop specific ways of helping children with ASD learn and socialize more effectively.
What Are The Long-Term Outcomes?
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disorder, and over time many people learn to improve their ability to socialize, converse and understand the thoughts and feelings of others, and to recognize the subtle expressions of their own feelings. With these improvements in the basic aspects of ASD, the conspicuous signs of the syndrome can decrease over time.
There are several important factors that lead to the successful outcome of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD):
- An accurate diagnosis is made and treatment is provided for the conditions, such as depression and anxiety, which often accompany ASD.
- Individuals with ASD and their families accept the diagnosis.
- Knowledge about ASD, through reading, support groups or other avenues, provides information on coping strategies.
- Success at work or school counterbalances the challenges of ASD. Social success becomes less important and a sense of identity and self-worth is measured more by achievements than by social popularity.
- Strengths and weaknesses are accepted and there is no longer a desire to be someone the person cannot be. There is recognition of qualities that others admire.
- For some adults, the conspicuous signs of ASD can decrease over time. Just as there are late talkers or walkers, there are late socializers, although late can be by several decades.
Autism Spectrum Disorder was discovered fairly recently, and many treatments are still being developed. One thing has definitely been established – the sooner one gets help, the better! Early intervention is the number one key to success for people with Autism.