Every parent of a child with autism asks themselves, “Am I doing enough to help my child?” They look to doctors, specialists, and (particularly) other parents with kids just like theirs for ideas and for validation that they are on the right course. With more therapies out there than there are hours in the week and dollars in the bank account / second mortgage to pursue them, parents are forced to prioritize. So what are the “best” therapies out there? Which ones work best for other kids just like yours? We asked the world’s foremost experts – parents of kids with autism – that very question. To be specific, we asked the parents on MyAutismTeam.com – a social network for more than 28,000 parents of individuals with autism – the following question: “What therapies, if any, worked best for your child”?
Here’s an example of what that question and answer looks like in the story of one mother on MyAutismTeam.
About one-third of the parents on MyAutismTeam have answered this question and more do every day as it is part of the sign-up process. What’s beautiful about this question is that it is highly personal. It doesn’t ask, “What are the best therapies for autism?” Instead, it asks the parent to list the therapies that work best for their child. What “works best” for one child on the spectrum may not work at all for another child or, in the case of occupational or speech therapy, need to be significantly tailored to the developmental needs of each child. Still, there is power in seeing how thousands of parents answer this question. We counted up all the therapies mentioned. Most parents answer this question by listing one or two therapies.
Here are the therapies parents reported as working best for their children, rank-ordered by percent of mentions and including only those therapies that received at least 1% of mentions:
1. Occupational Therapy – 39%
2. Speech Therapy – 27%
3. ABA Therapy – 15%
4. Social Skills Classes – 8%
5. Hippotherapy (OT through horseback riding) – 2%
6. GFCF Diet – 2%
7. Psychiatrist/Psychologist sessions – 2%
8. (5-way tie, each with 1%): Floor Time, RDI, PECs, Swimming, PRT
Other therapies / keywords listed that got less than 1% of mentions
What Does It Mean?
To be clear we are not doing rigorous science here and this is not meant to be comprehensive research but rather a reflection of what about 8,000 parents said worked best for their child. Here were a few of my take-aways:
Find Out What Works Best for Your Child
One key thing to remember here is that these answers reflect the broad range of parents on MyAutismTeam with children from all parts of the autism spectrum. We all know what works for one child on the spectrum may not do anything for another child with different developmental needs. The question most parents want to answer is, “What therapies work best for kids just like mine.” One of the best way to get constant, up-to-date answers on that question is to build relationships with other parents of kids like yours. You can do that on MyAutismTeam.