Therapies and Treatments

When a child is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), parents are encouraged to seek intervention for their child. However, given the broad diversity of symptoms and severity of such under the umbrella of the disorder, this can be difficult. It might present as a challenge for parents to feel comfortable and confident in the type of treatment to offer their newly diagnosed child. In addition to what could be interpreted as surprising news, the internet
can add another layer of emotional stress to parents. As they attempt to look for information on ASD to familiarize themselves, understand the recent news, and find treatments; online searches can result in misformation being fed to them during this time (Wilson et al., 2018). Because of the impactful impact that early intervention can have for individuals with ASD, it is very important for parents to make research-based decisions when it comes to treatment. Especially
since different media channels have served as a forum to present unconventional interventions that could be harmful (McDonald et al., 2012). These are also referred to as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and are utilized as a resource by a large majority of parents. With 50% to 92% of the ASD population accessing them either as their only treatment or in
conjunction with others (Schechtman, 2007). It is actually common for individuals with autism to undergo numerous treatments simultaneously, predominantly those of older ages (Wilson et al., 2018). According to Wilson et al. (2018) some popular CAM treatments used in the Autism Spectrum Disorder community include specific vitamin intake, restrictive meal plans, detoxification treatments, and mind-body practices. Not only do these types of treatments lack
substantial research, but they also might not be catered to the child’s particular needs, which can vary extensively as ASD patients possess a heterogeneous mix of delays and disabilities

(McDonald et al., 2012). In addition to the significant financial costs of using CAM, these can result in a waste of resources, such as time and money, for parents (Wilson et al., 2018).
Research by Schechtman (2007) elaborates that a main reason for parents choosing

complementary and alternative medicines lies in that conventional therapies often require long time commitments before producing progress or results. Naturally, this await from parents for results can drive feelings of desperation and lead them to explore other options for intervention.
Another factor influencing parents’ therapy decisions is commentary from their peers and loved ones. Wilson et al. (2018) reported that 42.5% of parents took into account advice from family members and 32.5% considered the advice of medical professionals. This demonstrates how crucial it is for physicians who deliver diagnoses to parents, to provide extensive information in regards to appropriate treatments and therapies for their children as they face this newly developed challenge in their lives.

Discussion Questions
Wilson et al. (2018)

After reading the article and the different factors involved in the process of treatment selection, which of the following do you think hold the greatest influence when it comes to treatment use: parent characteristics, child characteristics, or overall family characteristics? How can focusing on factors other than the diagnosed child’s characteristics negatively impact the child?

McDonald et al. (2012)

In this study the authors emphasized the harmful effects of unproven educational interventions and medical treatments. However, a decade after with the new discoveries about ASD that researchers and science have brought and will continue to bring… Do you think the threats of misinformation will decrease as more clarity and answers about the disorder become available?

Schechtman (2007)

Here the article elaborated on a variety of unconventional interventions for ASD that are

available for parents to opt for. However, because these could lead to negative consequences, how do you think physicians with direct contact to the parents could support and encourage smart, safe, and appropriate interventions for children with ASD?

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