ASAT Responds to Lexington Herald-Leader story "E. Ky. school uses intensive therapy to educate kids with autism"
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
February 19, 2010
Dear Ms. Hjalmarson:
Thank you sharing this important story with your readers.
We applaud the Highlands Center for Autism for making such a commitment to these precious children and for relying on objective data to guide efforts to help them realize their fullest potential.
Of the dozens of treatments for autism, applied behavior analysis is the only treatment that already has a solid body of scientific support. For many other treatments, there are just promises, media hype, and glowing testimonials.
As you mentioned, for some of the more impaired children, skills are indeed broken up into small units and taught systematically. For less impaired children with autism, the need for such structure and repetition is lessened.
We do want to provide a bit more information about your reference to the expense and tedious nature of this treatment. In contrast to other disabilities, autism has a significant impact on a child's social relatedness, communication, skills, and ability to learn across all domains. It would be naive to think that a simple intervention such as a pill, diet, or swim with a dolphin could eradicate such profound deficits.
It is also important to bear in mind that children with autism who make significant gains in the early years of intervention will require fewer services as older students and as adults. Millions of dollars can be saved per child over the course of his or her lifespan. Given that fact, a $60,000 per year investment benefits everyone.
David Celiberti, Ph.D., BCBA-D
President, Association for Science in Autism Treatment