Living Well

#ChildrensMentalHealthWeek: Treatments for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

#ChildrensMentalHealthWeek: Treatments for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Children's Mental Health Week

Day 3

Evidence-based treatments for individuals with ASD

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can affect several areas of life. As a parent, you may wonder what types of therapies your child would benefit from. While each child’s needs are unique and your child’s specific treatment plan should be created by a clinician who knows him or her best, below are some evidence-based treatments shown to be effective for individuals with ASD to get you started.

  • Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a treatment that is based on how people learn. It can help individuals learn a range of skills including language, preacademic and academic skills, social skills, toileting, and self-help or daily living skills. ABA can also help reduce challenging behaviors that get in the way of life such as aggressive behavior, self-injurious behavior, tantrums, and other behavioral concerns.
    • ABA can look different depending on your child’s specific needs. Some children receive several hours of ABA per week with a therapist working one-on-one with them. Other children may benefit from a caregiver training model, in which a therapist works directly with the parent on activities to do at home with the child.
    • At the Autism Center at Children’s Hospital, we offer a caregiver training model.

  • Many children with ASD have difficulties with fine motor activities such as zipping or buttoning clothing, handwriting, or tying shoes. Occupational therapy can help with strengthening the muscles required to complete these activities.

  • Children with ASD often struggle with language, whether it is learning to talk or having conversations. A speech/language pathologist can provide speech therapy to the child to address these areas of need.

No two children with ASD are alike, and a child should have their own treatment plan, which may include one or more of the above services. Families should speak to their provider (e.g., pediatrician or psychologist) about what treatments might be most appropriate for their child.

It can be overwhelming to decide on what treatments to enroll your child in, and unfortunately many ineffective treatments are often advertised for children with ASD. The Association for Science in Autism Treatment provides resources to help parents quickly get up to speed on whether a certain treatment may be useful or not for a child with ASD.

Provider Spotlight

Dr. Sarah Miller

Dr. Sarah Miller specializes in psychology and applied behavior analysis at The Autism Center at Children’s Hospital New Orleans. Dr. Miller graduated with a doctorate of philosophy in school psychology from LSU. She then completed a doctoral internship and postdoctoral fellowship in the assessment and treatment of severe problem behavior at Emory University and the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Miller holds licensure as a psychologist and is a board-certified behavior analyst – doctoral level (BCBA-D). Dr. Miller chose to specialize in applied behavior analysis because she values the opportunity she gets to work with families to improve their quality of life by teaching children new skills and reducing challenging behaviors.

Here are some fun facts about Dr. Miller

  • Loves hiking and backpacking
  • Louisiana native and triple-LSU grad
  • Can’t wait for live music to come back!