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There are no drugs that can “cure” ASD. There are a variety of treatments available which aim to improve social and communication skills. Because of the complexity of ASD, there is no one treatment that works equally well for all people with ASD. Some common treatments options are:

Applied Behavior Analysis interventionsJoint Attention interventionsTEACCHCognitive Behavioral TherapySymbolic Play Intervention
MASSIFocus TrainingPicture Exchange Communication System

Additionally, one small study has found success in improving academic interest by incorporating motivational elements in the academic tasks. This is important because early academic successes may serve as a foundation for later academic success. In this study, participants exhibited aggressive, disruptive behavior when presented with an academic task prior to treatment. After treatment, all participants stopped exhibiting aggressive behaviors and showed increased interest in academics.1

ASD children and question asking

One notable feature among children with autism is the lowered level or absence of question-asking. Young children with autism generally use communication for requests and protests rather than to learn information. One small study has been successful in teaching participants to appropriately ask "where" questions, leading to the acquisition of new language structures. Previous studies may have lacked generalizable results because positive rewards for good behavior were not related to the question or task at hand. However, the researchers in this study were able to show improvements which generalized to the child's home environment, perhaps because child preferred items were used as rewards and were directly related to the questions asked.2

Language Acquisition for ASD

Between 10-25% of all children with autism do not acquire any language functionality. Some techniques that maybe be helpful in non-verbal children with autism include

  1. Using an individualized orienting cue3

In this technique, time was spent with the child in order to find an "orienting cue" for that individual. Once that cue was found, the cue was presented simultaneously with a verbal model to elicit speaking from the child. Evidence suggests that there is an impaired orienting attentional network in ASD children4, which may explain this technique's success.

Some clinicians may prescribe medications to target certain symptoms.

There are also many controversial treatments.


1. Koegel LK et. al. Improving Motivation for Academics in Children with Autism. J Autism Dev Disord. 2010 Mar 10. PMID 20221791

2. Koegel LK et. al. Brief Report: Question-Asking and Collateral Language Acquisition in Children with Autism. J Autism Dev Disord. 2009 Nov 20. PMID 19936908

3. Koegel RL et. al. Brief report: using individualized orienting cues to facilitate first-word acquisition in non-responders with autism. J Autism Dev Disord. 2009 Nov;39(11):1587-92. PMID 19488847

4. Keehn B et. al. Attentional networks in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder.J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2010 Apr 26. PMID 20456535

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