The ideal treatment for High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Aspergers coordinates therapies that address core symptoms of the disorder (e.g., poor social skills, obsessive or repetitive routines, etc.). While most therapists agree that the earlier the intervention, the better, there is no single best treatment package.
HFA and Aspergers treatment takes into account the linguistic capabilities, verbal strengths, and social vulnerabilities of kids with HFA and Aspergers. A typical program generally includes:
- training of social skills for more effective interpersonal interactions
- training and support of mothers and fathers, particularly in behavioral techniques to use in the home
- social communication intervention, which is specialized speech therapy to help with the pragmatics of the give-and-take of normal conversation
- occupational or physical therapy to assist with poor sensory integration and motor coordination
- medication for coexisting conditions (e.g., depression, anxiety)
- cognitive behavioral therapy to improve stress management relating to anxiety or explosive emotions, and to cut back on obsessive interests and repetitive routines
- combinations of talk therapy, play therapy, and neurofeedback
Of the many studies on behavior-based early intervention programs, most are case studies of up to five participants, and typically examine a few problem behaviors (e.g., self-injury, aggression, noncompliance, spontaneous language). Unintended side effects are largely ignored.
In my opinion, the effectiveness of social skills training has been firmly established. A randomized controlled study of a model for training moms and dads in “problem behaviors” in their kids with HFA and Aspergers showed that parents attending a one-day workshop or six individual lessons reported fewer - and less intense - behavioral problems in their kids.
Vocational training is important to teach job interview etiquette and workplace behavior to older teens with HFA and Aspergers. Organization software and personal data assistants to improve the work and life-management of these teens are useful.TEACHING SOCIAL SKILLS AND EMOTION MANAGEMENT