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Treatment

Tammi Reynolds, BA & Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

Treatment

There is no cure for autism or PDD diagnoses. They are chronic lifelong conditions that can only be treated and moderated with appropriate intervention. It is crucial to intervene as early as possible when autism or another PDD is present, because (with the exception of Asperger's disorder) these conditions interfere with normal language development. Without explicit therapeutic assistance, PDD diagnosed children will not learn language properly or at all. Being able to use language is absolutely essential and fundamental for children's development; they cannot become educated or learn how to take care of themselves without language. It is therefore critical to help PDD children learn language at the earliest moment possible. Of course, early therapy for other PDD symptoms, including behavioral and social issues is also very important if behavioral and social problems are to be minimized.

A wide variety of interventions have been developed to children with autism or PDD diagnoses. Selected approaches address each child's specific needs as determined by educators and clinicians whose findings are formalized as an individualized treatment plan. Each child's treatment plan outlines that child's strengths and needs and also lists long-term and short-term goals for the child to reach. The treatment plan also outlines specific interventions that are to be used to help the child meet his goals.

Some of the more important treatment approaches are briefly described below: