Friday, May 31, 2013
Dear Mr. Kanne:
Thank you for bringing attention to the growing number of children diagnosed with autism and the difficulties that their families may encounter in your article, “Parents Can Get Help with Autism Issues” (April 5, 2013). Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects the entire family as well as the individual, and parents may struggle with a wide range of issues and emotions (e.g., guilt and relief) as mentioned in your article. Sifting through the over 400 treatments that can be found on the Internet, they may be incredibly overwhelmed as well.
You describe the arduous task that parents face selecting an effective treatment program. We are glad to see you mentioned “behavioral treatments” that are “being further researched and refined.” In fact, interventions included under applied behavior analysis (ABA) have more science-based research to support their efficacy than any other treatment approach. It is important for readers to know that this body of empirical support is the culmination of the efforts of hundreds of researchers. As you point out, autism “varies significantly in character and severity from one individual to the next” and ABA programs are individually tailored to a child’s strengths and deficits, and provide the intensive, highly structured and consistent therapy that research strongly supports as the most effective treatment. Parents should be encouraged to be wary of “miracle cures” and treatments that are not based in scientific evidence.
Again, we applaud your highlighting the struggles of families negotiating the overwhelming issues that they face, including finding an accurate diagnosis, handling social misconceptions and perhaps, more importantly, selecting the best treatment. As professionals, it is our responsibility to pass along the most current research in order to be the informed and savvy advocates for these families. We encourage your readers to familiarize themselves with our treatment summaries on the website of Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT):
Catherine M. Curcio, MSW and David Celiberti, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Association for Science in Autism Treatment