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 Is there a Cure for Autism?

Our understanding of autism has  grown  tremendously since it  was  first described in 
1943. Some of the earlier searches for 'cures' now seem unrealistic in terms of today's
understanding of brain-based disorders.To cure means "to restore to health, soundness,
or normality." In the medical sense, there is no cure for the differences in the brain which
result in autism.

However, we're finding better ways to understand the disorder and help people cope with
the various symptoms of the disability. Some of these symptoms may lessen as the child
ages; others may disappear altogether. With appropriate intervention, many of the autism
behaviors can be positively changed, even to the point that the child or adult may appear
will, to the  untrained person to  no  longer have  autism.  The majority of children  and
adults however, continue to exhibit some symptoms of autism to some degree throughout
their entire lives.


What are the Most Effective Approaches to Autism?

Because of the spectrum nature of autism and the many behavior combinations which
can occur, no one approach is effective in alleviating symptoms of autism in all cases. 
Various types of therapies are available, including behavior modification, speech and
language therapy, sensory integration, vision therapy, music therapy, auditory training,
medications  and dietary interventions, among others.

Experience has shown that individuals with autism respond well to a highly structured,
specialized education and behavior modification program, tailored to the individual
needs of the person. A well designed intervention approach will include some level of
communication therapy, social skill development, sensory impairment therapy and
behavior modification at a minimum, delivered by autism trained professionals in a
consistent, comprehensive and coordinated manner. The more severe challenges of
some children  with autism may  be best addressed by a structured education and
behavior program which contains a  1: 1  teacher to student ratio or small group

Students with autism should have training in vocational skills and community living skills
at the earliest possible age. Learning to cross a street safely, to make a simple purchase
or to ask assistance when needed are critical skills,  and may  be difficult,  even for those
with average intelligence levels.  Tasks  that enhance  the persons  independence,  give
more  opportunity  for  personal choice or  allow  more  freedom in  the community are

To be effective, any approach should be flexible in nature, rely on positive reinforcement,
be re-evaluated on a regular basis and provide a smooth transition from home to school
to community environments.  A good program will also incorporate training and support
 systems  for  the  caregivers as well.  Rarely  can a family, classroom teacher or other
caregiver  provide  effective habilitation for  a  person  with  autism unless  offered
consultation or in-service training by a specialist knowledgeable about the disability

A generation ago, 90% of the people with autism were eventually placed in institutions.
Today,  as a result of appropriate  and individualized services and programs, even the
more  severely  disabled can be taught skills to allow them to  develop to their fullest




From the Autism Society of America's web page [] entitled               
 'What is Autism?" developed and maintained on behalf of the ASA by Catriona Johnson & Ben Dorman.
Autism Society of America, 7910 Woodmont Ave,
Suite 650, Bethesda, MD 20814-3015            
tel: 1-800-3AUTISM (301) 657-0881; fax: (301) 657-0869.             


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