Treatment Planning for Patients With Autism Spectrum Disorders.




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Patients with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) can present with extremely heterogeneous issues, and, therefore, their treatment can be very challenging. Most patients with ASDs will benefit from contact with a multitude of disciplines. In this article, treatment planning is structured in terms of the patient’s life stages. Early on, assessment of developmental milestones, metabolic conditions, and hearing; making the diagnosis of ASD; and providing genetic counseling are salient. As the child grows, speech and language therapy, early intensive intervention, special education, parent training, and neurologic assessment become important. With greater age, behavior therapy, pharmacotherapy, occupational therapy, and sexuality issues are often in ascendancy. As the patient approaches and proceeds through adulthood, transition training, housing options, and guardianship issues may be priorities. Advocacy is relevant throughout the life span. Professionals have an obligation to familiarize parents with interventions likely to be fruitful or unhelpful. There is growing evidence that early intensive behavior intervention, though expensive, may produce lifelong gains in functioning. A variety of experimental and/or unproven treatments are identified; mental health professionals can help families with members who have ASDs by guiding them toward effective treatments and away from therapies of unknown value but with potential risks and/or costs.

J Clin Psychiatry 2005;66(suppl 10):38-45