While there is no cure for autism, many types of treatments and programs can help people manage their autism symptoms and improve communication.

While many different types of treatments exist that can help people with autism manage their symptoms, there is no single autism cure. In fact, autism is a lifelong diagnosis. Parents who wonder if autism can be cured for their child should instead talk to their doctor about different types of therapies, programs and medications that might help their child’s specific symptoms.

Autism Treatments

There are many different kinds of treatment options for autism. People who are looking for effective treatments for autism should try out approaches that have been tested in clinical trials and are recommended by medical professionals.

Some proven autism treatments include:

  • Applied Behavior Analysis: Applied behavior analysis helps people learn new skills. Applied behavior analysis for autism might help a child avoid negative behaviors and turn towards positive ones.
  • Occupational Therapy: Occupational therapy teaches people the skills they need for daily living. Occupational therapy for autism may include helping an individual improve their communication or motor skills.
  • Speech Therapy: Speech therapy for autism can be very helpful in giving people the skills to communicate their own needs. Autism speech therapy goals may include improved articulation or initiating communication on one’s own.
  • Pivotal Response Treatment: Many kids respond well to pivotal response treatment, which is a form of play-based therapy that helps children improve communication and social skills. Pivotal response treatments for autism often involve a significant commitment of time (some programs require as much as 25 hours weekly). These programs, however, can ultimately result in marked improvements in social behavior.
  • TEACCH: The TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication-Handicapped Children) Program is an educational initiative that involves changing the environment, teaching style and classroom activities to meet the needs of the student.
  • Medication: Some people take antidepressants, antipsychotics, stimulants or anti-seizure drugs for autism medication. These drugs may help to reduce symptoms of autism and make life with autism more manageable.

People interested in autism treatment should consult with a doctor who specializes in this area to learn more about which options might be best for them. Different types of therapies work better for different people, and one may have to try a few different approaches before finding something that works for them.

Early Intervention

Autism isn’t curable with early intervention. However, programs that start offering treatment to children at very young ages can help improve autism symptoms. A lot of scientists have conducted early intervention autism research to develop programs that work with both children and parents to encourage certain behaviors and avoid others. Many studies have found that these treatments can result in less severe autism symptoms a couple of years later, although the long-term effectiveness is still being studied.

Early intervention programs don’t typically get rid of all of a person’s symptoms and the programs don’t work for everyone. Some children who go through the programs may only see minimal improvement in symptoms, while others see big improvements as they get older. However, it seems that early intervention for autism is often helpful, and parents should try to get their children into age-appropriate treatment early on to help with symptoms.

Beware of False Claims

Many companies try to sell autism miracle cures, but these often give families hope and take their money without providing actual results. Some of these products may even be harmful to one’s health. Products to avoid include chelation therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, detoxifying clay baths, raw camel milk and essential oils. None of these have been shown to help with autism symptoms. Some people may claim they helped treat autism for themselves or a family member, but it is likely that in a lot of these cases, people are just experiencing a placebo effect. People should generally make it a practice to stay away from products that promise a cure or a quick solution.

Ongoing Research and Studies

Autism research is ongoing to find new ways to help people manage the condition. One exciting new study found that stem cell therapy for autism may help. Doctors gave children an infusion of stem cells, which are thought to help reduce inflammation in the brain, to help reduce symptoms. This research is ongoing but might lead to a whole new type of autism treatment in the future. Other autism clinical trials are underway to look at the effects of genetics, diet, new medications, early intervention programs and other treatment programs on autism symptoms.

If you or a loved one have autism and struggle with substance use disorder, you can get help from The Recovery Village. Call us to learn more about how we can help people manage these co-occurring disorders.

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Dawson, Geraldine; et al. “Autologous Cord Blood Infusions Are Safe and Feasible in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Results of a Single‐Center Phase I Open‐Label Trial.” Stem Cells Translational Medicine, April 5, 2017. Accessed September 14, 2019.

Estes, Annette; et al. “Long-Term Outcomes of Early Intervention[…]sm Spectrum Disorder.” Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, April 28, 2015. Accessed September 14, 2019.

Lei, Jiedi; Ventola, Pamela. “Pivotal response treatment for autism sp[…]current perspectives.” Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, June 20, 2017. Accessed September 14, 2019.

U.S. Food & Drug Administration. “Be Aware of Potentially Dangerous Produc[…]laim to Treat Autism.” Consumer Updates, April 17, 2019. Accessed September 14, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.