Treatment Options Policy
Background: Just decades ago, many people with autism were placed in institutions. Professionals were less educated about autism than they are today, and specific services and supports were largely non-existent. The picture is much clearer now. With appropriate services and supports, training and information, children on the autism spectrum will grow, learn and flourish, even if at a different developmental rate than others.
While there is no known cure for autism, there are treatment and education approaches that can address some of the challenges associated with the condition. Intervention can help to lessen disruptive behaviors, and education can teach self-help skills for greater independence. But just as there is no one symptom or behavior that identifies people with autism, there is no single treatment that will be effective for everyone on the spectrum. Individuals can use the positive aspects of their condition to their benefit, but treatment must begin as early as possible and focus on the individual’s unique strengths, weaknesses and needs.
Throughout the history of the Autism Society of America, parents and professionals have been confounded by conflicting messages regarding which treatment options are appropriate for children and adults on the autism spectrum. As each person responds to treatment differently, we cannot endorse any one treatment or program. Families should educate themselves about all options and choose what they feel is in the best interest of their child and family, based on their experience and what resources are available.
The Autism Society of America (ASA) and the Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM) promote the active and informed involvement of family members and the individual with autism in the planning of individualized, appropriate services and supports. We believe that each person with autism is a unique individual. Each family and individual with autism should have the right to learn about and then select the options they feel are most appropriate for the individual with autism. To the maximum extent possible, we believe that the decisions should be made by the individual with autism in collaboration with family, guardians and caregivers.
Services should enhance and strengthen natural family and community supports for the individual with autism and the family whenever possible. The service option designed for an individual with autism should result in improved quality of life. Abusive treatment of any kind is not an option.
We firmly believe that no single type of program or service will fill the needs of every individual with autism and that each person should have access to support services. Selection of a program, service or method of treatment should be on the basis of a full assessment of each person’s abilities, needs and interests.
We believe services should be outcome-based to ensure they meet the individualized needs of a person with autism.
With appropriate education, vocational training, community living options and support systems, individuals with autism can lead dignified, productive lives in their communities and strive to reach their fullest potential.
ASA and AuSM believe that all individuals with autism have the right to access appropriate services and supports based on their needs and desires.
Adopted by the ASA Board of Directors, 4/1/1995 Revised by the ASA Board of Directors 12/12/2009