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What are the treatments for autism spectrum disorder (ASD)?

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There is currently no one standard treatment for autism.

For many people with ASD, it is not too late to benefit from treatment, no matter how old they are when they are diagnosed. People of all ages, at all levels of ability, can often improve after well-designed interventions.

But there are many ways to help minimize the symptoms and maximize abilities. People who have ASD have the best chance of using all of their abilities and skills if they receive appropriate therapies and interventions.

The most effective therapies and interventions are often different for each person. However, most people with ASD respond best to highly structured and specialized programs.1In some cases, treatment can help people with autism to function at near-normal levels.

Research shows that early diagnosis and interventions, such as during preschool or before, are more likely to have major positive effects on symptoms and later skills. Read more about early interventions for autism.

Because there can be overlap in symptoms between ASD and other disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),2 it’s important that treatment focus on a person’s specific needs, rather than the diagnostic label.

Select the links for more information on each type of treatment for ASD.

Types of Therapies for ASD

If you have a question about treatment, talk to a health care provider who specializes in caring for people with ASD. These resources have more information about treatments for autism:


  1. National Institute of Mental Health. (2011). A parent's guide to autism spectrum disorder. Retrieved March 8, 2012, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/a-parents-guide-to-autism-spectrum-disorder/index.shtml [top]
  2. Kotte, A., Joshi, G., Fried, R., Uchida, M., Spencer, A., Woodworth, K. Y., et al. (2013). Autistic traits in children with and without ADHD. Pediatrics, 132(3), e612–e622. [top]

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Last Updated Date: 01/16/2014
Last Reviewed Date: 12/18/2013
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