Let’s Talk About How We Diagnose and Treat Mild Autism – Part II: Treatment
Written by Dr. John Carosso
Focus in Treatment?
Children with mild autism are treated with a very specific approach that involves clearly delineating the problem behaviors and tendencies. In that respect, we need as much detailed information about what goes wrong, and what goes well, in what situations, to what extent, for how long, and how frequently? Detailed written descriptions or, even video can be helpful. The more we know, the more effective the treatment plan.
A specialized or neuro-typical context?
There are social skill groups for children with autism that can be quite helpful. However, for some children with very mild symptoms, being segregated into groups with other children with autism is not entirely helpful. These kiddo’s need to learn skills amongst neuro-typical peers. So, in those instances, we take one challenging behavior at a time and, in-session during therapy, we practice, role-play, redirect, rehearse, and praise success over and over again, and transfer these skills and strategies to parents (and to the kiddos) to practice in Live situations with age-mates during the week. That one one behavior is targeted and the practicing continues until mastered; the mastered behavior is then placed into a maintenance schedule, and we move onto the next behavior or tendency.
Too simplistic? Is this Effective?
Well, maybe that is somewhat simplistic because, yes, it can get complicated. Some kiddos with mild autism are not entirely in-tune with the need to adhere to adult expectations and daily responsibilities. They have their own agenda and, consequently, getting compliance to role-play or practice can be tough but the child is not being defiant, they just ‘don’t get it.’ In those situations, we may use what’s called ‘pairing’ to promote completion of daily tasks, and rehearsal, and to get the kiddo onboard with the program. There are a host of other behaviors that may surface, and subsequent strategies that can be employed but, ultimately, the approach described above can be quite productive. In fact, treatment for mild autism is very effective and the outcome for these kiddos is exceedingly promising.
Stay in touch
I trust you’ll find that this targeted approach will be helpful but please feel free to contact me with any specific questions about your child’s progress, treatment regimen, problematic behaviors, or specific strategies. God bless.