Autism Treatment Methods Research Paper

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Autism has reached epidemic proportions between American children with cases increasing amongst adults and children worldwide. Treatments initially began with helping children improve their social and communication skills. With medications like risperidone and aripiprazole to treat irritability, children with autism were managed short-term. However, these medications only present a temporary fix with symptoms continuing after stopping of medication and symptoms recurring even with higher doses. For there to be a suitable alternative to pills and traditional methods of treatment, current research must demonstrate efficacy and cost efficiency concerning new autism treatments. This literature review will highlight a variety of new treatment approaches along with ways to monitor, evaluate, and understand how autism effects a child to show what can be done to help children with Autism.

In an article by Klintwall, Gillberg, Bolte, & Fernell, the authors discuss the use of intervention programs based on applied behavior analysis as the first step in treating autism, particularly in young children. Not only is ABA treatment beneficial on a group level with findings suggesting its efficacy, it is also beneficial on an individual level. "Several factors have been suggested to explain this differential response, including child characteristics, intensity of training and level of trainer fidelity to the protocol" (Klintwall, Gillberg, Bolte, & Fernell, 2012, p. 139). Furthermore, its use can be applied at any age, with research proving its continual efficacy in teens and young adults.

However, ABA treatment remains contentious. As the article states: "The structured nature of the intervention program and use of reinforcers can be uncomfortable for parents and trainers in pre-schools" (Klintwall, Gillberg, Bolte, & Fernell, 2012, p. 139). Preceding psychotherapy research done in adult groups reveal findings that show therapist allegiance to treatment methods is related to the gains accomplished. This means that the trainer or person who utilizes an ABA treatment must be loyal and adhere to the structure and rules of the treatment program in order for the ABA treatment to prove effective. If the trainers or parents feel the program is not suitable for their child, the results will prove ineffective. Simply put, although ABA treatment is a viable form of treatment, just like with anything else, if it is not implemented properly, the results will not yield a benefit to the child or produce a reduction in the level of autism of the child.

In a study by Magiati, Moss, Yates, Charman, & Howlin (2011), they discuss the need for increased validation brief measures and their inclusion of the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC) to evaluate the general progress of young children with ASD or autism spectrum disorders. In their study, the ATEC was "used as part of a comprehensive assessment battery to monitor the progress of 22 school-aged children with ASD who had previously taken part in intensive home- or school-based intervention programmes in their pre-school years" (Magiati, Moss, Yates, Charman, & Howlin, 2011, p. 302). Their methods involved surveying the parents of children with ASD who were again survey five years later to measure cognitive, adaptive behavior, and language skills, along with degree of autism symptoms over the equivalent period. The results suggest the ATEC had great internal regularity at both time points.

Measuring the degree of autism within a child is a must in order to determine whether or not a treatment method is working. Using tools like the ATEC to assess a child's progress is key in seeing which treatment approaches work and which do not. As the authors state, "ATEC total and sub-scale scores remained relatively stable over time and were highly and significantly correlated with cognitive, language and adaptive behavior skills and severity of autism symptoms at both assessment points" (Magiati, Moss, Yates, Charman, & Howlin, 2011, p. 302). The study provided preliminary evidence suggesting ATEC may be beneficial for evaluating children with autism. Systematically monitoring the progress of children with autism will assists trainers and personnel to know if their teaching and techniques are effective. It can also help parents determine where the child may be lacking with language and cognitive ability.

In a study done by Schreibman & Stahmer (2013), they discuss the fact there is currently no agreement on the precise behavioral treatment of choice for directing language in young nonverbal children with autism. Much like many of the articles featured in this literature review, most of the techniques and treatment options examined here have not been researched and are considered new in the world of autism treatment.
In the article, the authors discuss the kind of study they performed. "This randomized clinical trial compared the effectiveness of a verbally-based intervention, Pivotal Response Training (PRT) to a pictorially-based behavioral intervention, the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) on the acquisition of spoken language by young (2 -- 4 years), nonverbal or minimally verbal (?9 words) children with autism" (Schreibman & Stahmer, 2013, p. 6).

39 children who participated in the study were unsystematically assigned to either the PRT or PECS condition. Participants took regularly, 247 hours of involvement through 23 weeks. "Dependent measures included overall communication, expressive vocabulary, pictorial communication and parent satisfaction" (Schreibman & Stahmer, 2013, p. 6). The results led to children from both intervention groups showing increases in spoken language skills, with no noteworthy variance amongst the two conditions. Although PECS was just as successful in teaching the children functional words, it was harder to implement thus making it not the primary choice for parents. This study helped illuminate the way to test out methods and seeing which ones are easier to implement. Any technique easy to implement will allow for more practice between the parent/trainer and child leading to better results.

In an article by Silva, Schalock, & Ayres (2011), the article examines what causes severity in autism. They state after performing a study on 130 children, sensory and self-regulatory impairment is the cause of severe autism in children. Their model consisted of: "To present a model for autism showing that impairment of sensory and self-regulation is the core deficit that underlies delays in social/language skills and abnormal behavior in autism; and to demonstrate the efficacy of a treatment for autism based on Chinese medicine" (Silva, Schalock, & Ayres, 2011, p. 421). This kind of research allows for better understanding of what causes high degrees of autism in children. Becoming aware of the kind of problem a child may have in regards to autism will aid in determining the most appropriate treatment option.

The type of treatment as described by the authors: "Treatment is a tuina (massage) methodology directed at sensory impairment known as Kai Qiao Tuina or Qigong Sensory Training" (Silva, Schalock, & Ayres, 2011, p. 421). The treatment, although unconventional, proved effective in reduction of core behaviors and validated the use of newer treatment options to reduced autism related symptoms in children. The randomized controls provided not only validation for this kind of treatment but also a marker for what causes intense autistic episodes in children. Autistic children need treatment that focuses on sensory and self-regulation.

In an article by Stahmer, Schreibman, & Cunningham (2011), they examine the application of early intervention for children with autism aged 4 years or younger. "Although the etiology of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and early development of the ASD are not yet well understood, recent research in the field of autism has heavily emphasized the importance of early intervention (i.e. treatment before the age of 4 years)" (Stahmer, Schreibman, & Cunningham, 2011, p. 229). As seen through the previous studies, in recent years, roughly since 2010, numerous methods have been confirmed to be effective with some children however no treatment absolutely improves the symptoms of ASD or works for all children who have the disorder. The heterogeneity and evolving nature of the disorder make it improbable that one definite treatment will be superlative for all children, or will be successful for any one child during his or her educational vocation.

Therefore the article scrutinizes early research authenticating dissimilar technologies for customizing treatment. "A discussion of current research on pre-treatment characteristics associated with differential outcomes in treatment, including child, family, and practitioner variables; and how specific intervention techniques address each of those pre-treatment characteristics is provided" (Stahmer, Schreibman, & Cunningham, 2011, p. 229). The eventual objective of this article is to empower practitioners to prospectively modify treatments to particular children and their individual needs, increasing the overall rate of positives results for children with autism. Research that advances comprehension of how to couple clients with effective treatments will lessen the outcome inconsistency that exemplifies early intervention research currently, and delivers the well-organized distribution of resources during the serious early intervention time-period. "This type of research is in its infancy, but is imperative if we are to determine a priori which treatment method will be most effective for a specific child" (Stahmer, Schreibman, & Cunningham, 2011, p. 229).

In conclusion, new treatment.....

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