The focus on intervention for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) is
on the developmental transitions from childhood to adulthood and the ability to
initiate, maintain and enhance interpersonal relationships. Although skill sets
and interests change over time the primary goal throughout this life cycle is
the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle in terms of independent living, employment,
social relationships and positive mental health outcomes.
Children with ASDs rarely grow out of the diagnosis. In some situations their functional
improvement and skill acquisition is so successful that general observation
would not raise the concern of an ASD as they reach adulthood. This capability
to “become invisible” is quite rare although with mild cases of ASDs being
identified these positive trajectories may become increasingly common.
The aim of all accommodations and skill set enhancements are to minimize
the core features and associated deficits while at the same time optimizing
functional independence and enhancing overall quality of life. Throughout this
process educational and social opportunities are sought and techniques and
services are utilized to acquire the necessary independence to achieve success
in both the workplace and home settings.
Stress within the family of a child diagnosed as having an ASD is ever present. The focus is on alleviating distress in the family by promoting social and educational development while minimizing maladaptive behaviors that preclude social interaction and workplace success. As always success in job placement will hinge on the ability to provide a match of skill set and interest for a specific job while having a behavioral
profile that does not prevent successful job performance.
The educational service cornerstones are educational interventions with appropriate
accommodations matched with behavioral strategies to instill and accelerate age
and situation appropriate behaviors.These services address academic achievement,
language and communication skills, social reciprocity, daily living skills
including leisure skills and hobbies or play activities and the elimination of
Children with ASDs also must receive appropriate medical care for both health maintenance and ongoing illnesses. They are prone to various disturbances including dietary and gastrointestinal problems as well as sleep disturbances. If associated medical conditions such as seizures or mental health disorders are present then these also must be dealt with in a proactive fashion. Due to inherent language, communication and behavioral difficulties many individuals with ASDs can be easily “missed” in terms of one of the above described problems not being recognized and dealt with by their health care provider. Due to this risk a medical home model should be pursued where the family and the medical provider collaborate in the pursuit and choice of medical services.
Medications can be very helpful to deal with various symptoms but do not cure the core deficits of those with ASDs. Attentional difficulties, mood related disorders, anxiety, sleep disturbances, aggressive or self injurious behaviors (SIB) and oppositional or repetitive behaviors are many of the reasons specific medications are chosen. Medication management must be done in consultation with a health provider experienced in the care of children and adults with ASD.