Various program components share an emphasis on early, appropriate, and intensive educational interventions for young children. Other common factors may be some degree of inclusion – mostly behavior–based interventions – programs which build on the interests of the child, extensive use of visuals to accompany instructions, highly structured schedule of activities, parent and staff training, transition planning and follow–up.
Various types of therapies are available, including (but not limited to) applied behavior analysis, auditory integration training, dietary interventions, discrete trial teaching, medications, music therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, sensory integration, speech/language therapy and vision therapy.
A well–designed intervention approach may include some elements of communication therapy, social skill development, sensory integration therapy and applied behavior analysis, delivered by trained professionals.
A structured education and behavior program that contains a one–on–one teacher to student ratio or small group environment may best address the more severe challenges of some children.
In addition to appropriate educational supports in the area of academics, students with autism should have training in functional living skills at the earliest possible age. Learning to cross a street safely, to make a simple purchase, or to ask for assistance when needed, are critical skills, and may be difficult even for those with average intelligence levels.
To be effective, any approach should be flexible in nature, rely on positive reinforcement, be re–evaluated on a regular basis, and provide a smooth transition from home to school to community environments. As a result of the challenging behavior of their children, relationships with service providers, attempting to secure appropriate services, resulting in financial hardships, or very busy schedules, families often have difficulty participating in typical community activities. This results in isolation and difficulty in developing needed community support. With appropriate intervention, many associated forms of behavior could be changed positively. The majority of children and adults will, however, continue to exhibit some manifestations of autism to some degree throughout their entire lives.