Autism Spectrum Disorder     

Treatment |  Asperger's Disorder   |   Definition   |   NLD   

  Autism Apps  |   Autism Resources  |  Testing



If symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are suspected, a thorough neuropsychological assessment is critical for definining a diagnosis and providing a roadmap for the future. Pediatric neuropsychologists offer the most comprehensive assessments because of their strong understanding of developmental stages in language and learning. A standard psychological assessment has the capacity to diagnose a condition such as autism, but it lacks the specificity to understand what is causing the symptoms. Neuropsychological assessments evaluate a client with much great specificity. Furthermore, a neuropsychologist can also identify developmental strengths in a person with ASD, and ensure that the treatment team recognizes and builds on these strengths.

  A comprehensive neuropsychological assessment evaluates all of the cognitive domains:

  • Attention and Concentration
  • Verbal and Visual Memory
  • Auditory and Visual Processing
  • Visual Spatial Functioning
  • Language and Reading Skills
  • Sensory Development and Sensory Integration
  • Gross and Fine Motor Development
  • Social Skill Development
  • Executive Functioning
  • Emotional and Personality Development
  • Behavioral Functioning


Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Once the assessment is complete, a comprehensive treatment plan can be created. A treatment plan will outline cognitive strengths and weaknesses, address specific needs with regard to everyday functioning, while maintaining the overall goal of improving well being.

Treatment usually consists of a combination of interventions in the following three areas:

Behavioral therapy

Behavioral and educational therapy are crucial for children and adults with ASD. Ideally, the earlier therapy and other interventions take place in a person's life, the more dramatic the improvements can be. Everyone with ASD can benefit from a highly structured treatment plan, however.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy aims at increasing language and communication skills, improve attention and executive functioning skills, improve educational performance, and increase social skills. ABA uses evidence-based methods focusing on a child's environment and behavior, and how they influence on another. ABA therapy focuses on developing new skills, and overcoming problematic behaviors. 

Occupational therapy can also be helpful in improving functioning inside a classroom, at home or in a work environment. OTs have in-depth knowledge of sensory integration disorders and collaborate with family members, teachers, and others to address the complicated manifestations of a dysregulated sensory system.

Diet/microbiome interventions

While still considered an emerging field, addressing dysbiosis and balancing the gut microbiome is a promising intervention for those with ASD. Many families have been using dietary interventions with great success for many years, and current research is now catching up and proving the importance of the gut-brain connection.

The primary goal of dietary intervention is to reduce inflammation and intestinal permeability, thereby reducing neurotoxicity. At the NeuroAssessment and Development Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, we have a consultant, Katie Hankus, who can work with you or your child to develop a dietary treatment plan and walk you through the steps and questions you might have along the way. To find out more, click here.

Pharmacological treatment

While there is no standard medication used for ASD, there are several options to target individual symptoms such as anxiety, depression, seizures, impulsivity, hyperactivity, insomnia, self-injurious, and obsessive-compulsive behaviors. For example, stimulants like Adderall, Vyvanse, Ritalin, and Concerta are often prescribed for impulsivity and hyperactivity in someone with ASD although it is technically "off label" unless there is a co-morbid diagnosis of AD/HD.

Due to the complexity of ASD and its comorbidities, a comprehensive neuropsychological assessment will evaluate individual symptoms and develop a comprehensive treatment team using a combination of interventions.


Note: Please use independent judgmentwhen considering any resource associated with diagnosis or treatment of autism or its associated medical conditions. The information provided above is solely for educational purposes, not medical advice.

References: