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Autism spectrum disorders present with a number of treatable challenges. While there is no scientifically recognized cure for autism, therapies and comprehensive treatment plans allow those with autism to overcome some common challenges. The goal of most autism treatment plans is to teach autistic children and adults to lead as functional a life as possible, given the severity of each patient's disability. Scientists and researchers continue to search for a cure, with autism research projects spanning genetics, approaches to treatment, and biomedical factors such as diet and environmental components.
In terms of autism treatment, parents of autistic children, as well as autistic adults, have several options. Treatment plans are no replacement for a cure for autism, but the right treatment plan can mitigate the condition's effects. Some options include behavior modification therapy, speech and occupational therapy, social skills development, educational interventions, medications, and various biomedical treatments including dietary changes and herbal supplements. Each treatment modality has benefits and consequences, with few autistic children or adults relying on a single type of treatment.
An autistic child in elementary school, for example, needs many interventions to learn how to cope with autism and its challenges. Occupational therapy can assist with balance, tactile sensitivities, and coordination. Language pathologists or speech therapists can assist with articulation difficulties. Behavior modification and other cognitive therapies can assist with learning social skills, lessen the severity of disruptive behaviors, and improve learning. In some instances, medications may be necessary to help control anxiety, improve impulse control, or lessen violent outbursts.
No single treatment option serves as a cure for autism, but the right treatment plan utilizing a combination of several approaches can drastically improve a patient's quality of life. Since autism spectrum disorders are varied in severity and symptoms, each patient requires a customized approach to treatment. What works for one child or adult with autism may not work for another, with many patients engaging in a variety of treatment options throughout their lifetime. In many cases, treatment plans are augmented as a patient matures or masters a particular challenge.
The search to find a cure for autism continues, using research gathered by those patients currently engaged in autism treatment. Although each individual with autism presents with different strengths and weaknesses, the overall effectiveness of various treatment options provides a wealth of insight. Combined with scientific research into the genetics of autism, successful treatment approaches illustrate the core features of spectrum disorders, providing researchers with valuable information. Compared to the knowledge base available just a few decades ago, researchers today have learned more about the spectrum and its internal workings than ever before. As such, a cure for autism is not an unrealistic expectation for future generations.