There is no cure to treat autism because autism is not a disease. Autism is a neurological disorder, most probably created by genetic makeup, and does not arise from an external or environmental source such as a virus, vaccination, or chemical poisoning. Proper treatments help persons on the Autism Spectrum cope with their disorder and teach them how to function in society and socialize with their peers.
A person within the Autism Spectrum can live a perfectly healthy and productive life if they are diagnosed early enough (preferably before three years of age) and provided early intervention assistance. The later an individual starts getting treatment the harder it will be for them to learn and integrate into mainstream. The Autism Spectrum Disorder encompasses various symptoms from mild (Asperger syndrome) to severe (person is completely uncommunicative, socially distant, and has obsessive and repetitive behaviors. Because of this each individual is different and will need varying types of treatment and treatment intensity. Each patient should be evaluated by a psychologists trained in behavior disorders or doctor specializing in development or psychiatry, and given an individualized treatment program.
Things You Will Need
To this date the only scientifically proven, substantiated, and officially recognized treatment for someone diagnosed with autism (ASD, PDD-NOS, etc) is Applied Behavioral Analysis, more commonly referred to as ABA. This behavior management therapy focus on reinforcing wanted behaviors, such as increased communication and language skills and socialization, and reducing unwanted behaviors which interfere with learning and social integration. ABA therapy has been used since its inception in the 1960's by UCLA psychologist Dr. Ivaar Lovaas PhD. ABA treatments have evolved from the original Lovaas method and now also include Discrete Trial Training (DTT) and the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS).
Other than ABA, the medical establishment will only provide drugs for behavior control, and that is only in extreme cases where patients tend to harm themselves and/or others.
Complimentary Treatments to Applied Behavior Therapies
In addition to behavior therapy, and depending on the severity of the patient's autism, doctors may recommend complimentary treatments such as occupational, physical, and speech therapy. These therapies have for objective to improve fine and gross motor skills, and will teach the patient how to control their bodies and avoid repetitive movements and other self-stimulating activities. These therapies without ABA, however, will not help someone on the Autism Spectrum.
If you have a relative diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Distorder, read extensively on the latest medical findings and keep abreast of the latest research from National Institute of Mental Health, the National Alliance for Autism Research, and the National Institute for Neurological Disease and Stroke. Be skeptical of all therapies, 'opinions' and 'studies' that were not validated by double-blind and controlled medical experiments, or which were not performed at non-profit medical establishments and research universities.
Tips & Warnings
Defeat Autism Now (DAN) and Medically Unproven Practices
Despite a lack of scientific evidence supporting their effectiveness, some believe that autism is a disease which can be treated through medicine (drugs), ketogenic, gluten free and casein free diets, and complementary and alternative treatments. Many of these treatments are not harmful for their patients and may have placebo affects (especially on the patient's relatives). Most complimentary treatments involve dietary restrictions, enzymes, vitamins, and harmless massages such as Reiki or acupressure.
On the other hand treatments such as chelation, secritin injections, lupron (a prostrate and castration drug) are quite dangerous and should be avoided. Other treatments, such as hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatments, antifungal and ant yeast therapies and homeopathy have dubious claims, have been discredited and generally cost money that parents and relatives can't easily afford.
Protect Your Wallet and Your Autistic Relative
Protect your wallet and your loved one by staying away from any discredited or unproven therapies and biomedical treatments marketed to you, even if proposed by a medical doctor (such as Defeat Autism Now doctors). Many such treatments are offered and substantiated by "centers" that are for-profit enterprises and doctors who propose treatments that are not recognized or reimbursed by insurance companies or Medicaid.
Most treatments are marketed to relatives and parents of those who have been diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum and play on their distress and hopelessness. Usually parents and relatives feel the need "to do something rather than idly stand by" and try many discredited or unproven methods to help their relative. In the end they are poorer and no better off.