Autism therapy is adapted to the abilities, changing needs and co-occurring disorders of the individual person. The aim of the interventions is to:

  • stimulating the development of social, communicative, adaptive (self-care) skills;
  • stimulating cognitive development;
  • changing undesirable behaviour.

Parents of children with autism are offered many approaches. The most noteworthy are those based on research findings. Unproven methods should be avoided, as they may harm those affected by ASD. Interventions not recommended for children and adolescents with autism include the use of chelation therapy, secretin or hyperbaric oxygen therapy.


Therapeutic interventions that have been scientifically proven to be effective in autism are:

  • applied behaviour analysis (ABA): involves teaching the child specific behaviours and reducing undesirable behaviours;
  • cognitive-behavioural interventions (CBT): focus on emotions and thoughts and their impact on the child’s behaviour. The programme typically includes strategies for recognising and phasing emotions and behaviours that enable them to be expressed safely;
  • therapy and education for autism and communication disorders (TEACCH): the aim of the programme is to provide a comprehensive, individualised model of therapy, education, rehabilitation and care for people with autism. It uses behavioural and sensory therapy methods;
  • social skills training (TUS): is a group training that is based on behavioural and cognitive-behavioural approaches. It teaches appropriate behaviour. It uses, among other things, scripts, social stories or role play;
  • communication training, speech therapy (VBI): are aimed at developing children’s communication and narrative skills.

Methods that are often used, but whose effectiveness has not been conclusively proven in research, include:

  • relational approaches: these emphasise the importance of building relationships between interactants;
  • sensory integration (SI) therapy: this is aimed at improving the processing of sensory information. Some current research indicates the usefulness of SI in children with autism, provided, however, that the therapy is carried out according to the original assumptions of the author;
  • auditory training: some studies have confirmed the effectiveness of this method in people with autism.

In view of the research findings, these interactions should be considered as developmental support and not as the main methods of working with an autistic child.

Pharmacological treatment of autism

There is no cure for autism. With the help of pharmacotherapy, symptoms of co-occurring disorders are alleviated. So far, two second-generation antipsychotics have been proven to have a positive effect in children and adolescents with autism who have irritability and aggression. These formulations have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as part of a comprehensive treatment for challenging behaviour in people with ASD.

Can autism be cured?

Autism lasts a lifetime. One does not grow out of the disorder. However, therapeutic interactions, which have been proven to be effective by scientific research, can improve the communication and social skills of a person with autism. Management has a positive impact on the wellbeing and quality of life of both patients and their families. Some studies have shown that less than 5% of children with autism recover completely. However, this seems to be influenced by the broad criteria for the disorder, which allows for a diagnosis in those with borderline symptoms.