Anyone who has a child on the autism spectrum has learned that there isn’t any magical one-size-fits-all solution to the daily challenges.
Rather, navigating life sometimes seems like a matter of trial and error. What’s more, everyone you know seems to have an opinion on what to do, what to eat, where to go and what to read. You hear about gluten, music therapy, yoga and a list of supplements that seems to always be expanding and changing.
It can all get very confusing.
But the truth is, there are certain educational practices scientifically proven to be effective. That certainly doesn’t mean you can’t—or shouldn’t—try other things, but keeping an eye on research-backed methods will provide you with a good base from which to start.
The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder has identified more than two dozen evidence-based practices, including the following:
- Functional Communication Training which teaches vocabulary that is meaningful to the learner and doing so in a naturalistic way. This can be done with verbal speech, a communication device or even with pictures.
- Naturalistic intervention which bridges the gap between the teaching world and the natural world. While that may sound rather complex, it really just means teaching is done during the learner’s everyday routines and activities so that concepts are made meaningful.
- Visual supports assist the child in learning a variety of concepts and ideas. By utilizing visual supports, the learner can more easily understand academic concepts and cope better with changes in their schedule.
- Social skills training is pretty much exactly what it sounds like—teaching learners which social skills they need to target for improvement.
- Social narratives teach learners to pick up on social cues, which helps them understand other people’s thoughts and feelings better.
- Structured play groups are small group activities with a defined area, activity and theme. Typically, developing peers take part in the group as well.
These are just a few strategies that can be helpful to an individual with autism spectrum disorders. While this list may be overwhelming, remember that you don’t have to take this journey alone. The pediatric therapy team at Fisher-Titus Medical Center can help.
For more information on programs that Fisher-Titus Pediatric Therapy provides children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, call 419-663-1975, Ext. 3040. Our pediatric therapy team can help guide you to beneficial services and strategies for your child.