In an open forum held Monday at Rutgers University, Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center representatives discussed current information about autism spectrum disorders treatment in an effort to close the gap between knowledge in research literature and what is taking place in the field.
The forum aimed at dispelling some autism treatment myths currently circulating. At Rutgers the DDDC emphasised the importance of early intensive intervention based on applied behavior analysis or ABA :
Starting in 2007 the DDDC launched the Early Intervention Program. This created a program where researchers agree an early intensive and coordinated program based on applied behavior analysis, also known as ABA, is the best practice treatment, Weiss said.
ABA dispels one of the most common misconceptions: That a child will learn if you give him or her more time.
"If children on the spectrum are going to learn to talk, I don't think it was because we gave them time," Demiri said. "Children on the spectrum do not acquire the language naturally, they need to be taught it. Instead of giving children time to learn to talk, we want to give them opportunities to learn."
Research shows the more treatment the child receives, the better the chances the child will develop typically. The early treatment program consumes up to 40 or more hours per week of the child's time.
The amount of time the treatment consumes debunks another common misconception: That autistic children cannot endure such intensive treatment. "We've actually found that a lot of our children can tolerate it," Demiri said. "In our experience, children with less hours have made the least amount of gains and have had the most difficulty retaining skills."