Treating Autism Spectrum Disorder is a Team Effort
By The South Asian Autism Awareness Centre
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a group of complex developmental brain disorders that affect the way the brain develops. People with ASD experience challenges in 3 areas:
- social interaction
- language and communication
- strong interests and repetition of behaviours
ASD is a lifelong disorder. There are no pills or one time treatment that can cure someone of the disorder. It is a developmental disability that needs a life time treatment plan. While there is no cure, an individual’s symptoms, abilities, and experiences can improve over time with the help of evidence based therapies and interventions.
A popular misconception is that ASD can be treated by a single healthcare professional or the school system alone, which in fact is not the case. Families must assemble a team of professionals that support individuals with ASD in order to target and develop many different skill areas.
Here are some core professionals that you should have part of your ASD team to help your child learn important daily living, social and communication skills:
Developmental Pediatricians: Developmental pediatricians, particularly those with a subspecialty in ASD, are highly trained and experienced in identifying and diagnosing a whole range of developmental and behavioral differences. Developmental pediatrician should be able to look at your child’s development overall, provide a diagnosis, and recommend a specific treatment plan.
ABA Therapist: ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis) therapy helps build useful behaviours and skills while reducing problematic behaviours (hitting, yelling, destroying property, etc). ABA focuses on understanding the reasons why some problem behaviours exist and what situations causes those behaviours to occur. Then, therapists create a plan to reduce such behaviours and develop socially significant behaviours in a very systematic way.
Occupational Therapist: Occupational therapy is a health profession that is directed toward enabling people to participate in daily occupations, including taking care of oneself (e.g., dressing, bathing, toileting), contributing to society (e.g. paid and unpaid work, going to school) and enjoying life (e.g., hobbies, sports). Occupational Therapists provide the interventions necessary to facilitate greater independence and participation in community life.
Speech-Language Pathologists: Communication is a key area affected by ASD. Children diagnosed with the disorder have an array of communication difficulties ranging from being non-verbal to being extremely verbal but who misuse and misunderstand language. It is such communication difficulties that are addressed and treated by Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP). SLPs are healthcare professionals involved in assisting and promoting effective communication skills.
Case Manager: The developmental health system can be complicated to navigate for many families. Case managers can help families cut through the overwhelming information and services to find the right programs and information that will be useful for families.
These professionals should always be the core team for a family living with ASD, but there are many more professionals that can be included. ASD poses many challenges, but given the right team and support, families can be empowered and enabled to help their children reach their true potential.
The South Asian Autism Awareness Centre (SAAAC) is a registered charity that grew in response to the culture of shame, stigma, and silence associated with autism in the South Asian community. Founded in 2008, we quickly evolved to cater to diverse communities and families across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), providing accessible, cost-effective and discipline-rich management of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) among children and youth.
SAAAC aims to develop a vibrant, open, and inclusive community composed of families, caregivers, and community members who are well equipped to handle the challenges presented by autism.
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