Treatment of Autism in Adults

Transition to adulthood can be particularly difficult for the families of children with autism. During childhood, most services are centered in the educational system and children are entitled to receive a public education. In many states, special needs teens can continue to get some services through the schools until around age 20 or 21. After that, parents have to seek help from the social services system, which is more fragmented and difficult to navigate.

Autism Treatment

Specialized behavioral and educational programs are designed to help adults with autism. Behavioral therapy is used to teach social skills, motor skills, and cognitive (thinking) skills and behavior modification is also useful in reducing or eliminating maladaptive behaviors. Special education programs that are highly structured focus on developing social skills, speech, language, self-care, and job skills. Medication is also helpful in treating symptoms of autism in some adults. Mental health professionals provide caregiver counseling, social skills training, and individual therapy. They also help families identify and participate in treatment programs based on an individual person's treatment needs. Specific treatment will be determined by your doctor based on:

  • A person's age, overall health, and medical history
  • Extent of the disorder
  • A person's symptoms
  • A person's tolerance for specific medications or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the disorder
  • Your opinion or preference

Please consult a doctor before starting any treatment plans, and use online resources such as Autism Speaks for help finding adult autism support groups.

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