How prominent is autism?

Children diagnosed within the autism spectrum are reported to occur across all racial, socioeconomic groups, and ethnic groups. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of autism has been estimated to affect as many as 1 in every 68 children and is four times more common in boys than in girls.

Will a child ever grow out of this?

The Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc. (CARD) firmly believes that recovery from Autism exists with the right treatment approach and we have seen it in many of our clients.  Although we cannot guarantee that every child will recover from autism, research has shown that children who start intervention early, and receive a high intensity number of hours per week of applied behavior analysis instruction for at least a few years achieve the most significant gains.

For those we consider recovered, we mean the following:

  • The child is in a regular education placement, is receiving passing grades and no longer needs specialized support
  • The child scores above to above average in standardized assessments related to language, intelligence, socialization, and daily living skills
  • A medical doctor or psychologist experienced in diagnosing autism concludes that the child no longer qualifies for any diagnosis in the autism spectrum

While recovery is possible for a number of individuals affected by autism, it is not the single goal in intervention.  The goal for all clients, regardless of age, is to help them achieve the most they can, be independent as possible, and lead happy and fulfilling lives.

What are the suspected causes?

Current thinking suggests an interaction between a genetic predisposition and environmental triggers that children are exposed to.  Science is looking at a number of environmental toxins.

How can you improve the life, health and development of an autistic child?

There is a significant volume of research on the outcome of intensive ABA instruction for children with autism and it seems clear that ABA is the treatment of choice for children with autism. Substantial research has demonstrated that for a significant proportion of children with autism, the optimal outcome is possible: everyday functioning that is indistinguishable from that of typically developing peers. Studies which have evaluated ABA instruction of short duration (i.e., less than 2 years) and/or of low intensity (i.e., less than 30 hours per week) indicate, without exception, that optimal outcomes are not produced. In order for children with autism to achieve maximal treatment effects, multiple studies have demonstrated clearly that ABA must be provided at a minimum of 30 hours per week and for a minimum duration of 2 years.

In addition to ABA instruction, it’s important to take note of the child’s overall health. Everyone, not just children with autism, are affected by lack of sleep or inappropriate diet choices, or may have medical issues that directly impact health.  A child who is healthy automatically feels better and is therefore more ready to learn and grow.  So it’s very important to take a comprehensive treatment approach and treat the child as a whole.

Will the child ever go to a mainstream school?

Several decades of scientific research have conclusively proven the effectiveness of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) with children with autism. In addition to showing gains in different developmental areas, children have also been successfully included into typical classroom settings.  In the first large-scale, long-term outcome study, Lovaas and colleagues (1987) found that 47% of the children receiving intensive early intervention using ABA, were able to function independently and successfully in regular classrooms.  Children in the control groups received fewer hours of ABA and made much smaller gains, with only 2% of children across both control groups achieving normal educational and intellectual functioning. Subsequent studies on intensive ABA have produced similar results.

When should parents look for medical intervention?

Medical intervention should always be sought to ensure that the child is healthy and to rule out any physiological/biological reason for atypical eating.  Once a child is shown to be medically healthy by a physician, other explanations for disordered feeding can be explored.

For Myths and Misconceptions about ABA visit www.prioritiesaba.com/resources-links/myths-and-misconceptions-about-aba