6 Helping people with autistic spectrum disorders
6.1 Intervention approaches
In Section 6 we will consider approaches to providing help and support for people with ASDs. Most interventions are designed for children, but we will also touch on the developing range of interventions aimed at adults. Another dimension to consider is the extent to which such interventions target the specific needs of the different sub-areas or groups highlighted throughout this course.
Practical developments in diagnosis, therapy and education span the three levels of explanation, from observable behaviour to socio-cognitive functioning and biology. Most of the work is directly or indirectly informed by the account of symptoms in Sections 2 and 3, and by the theoretically oriented work represented in Sections 4 and 5. One ‘behavioural’ approach considered here is intentionally more pragmatic in its rationale, illustrating a different theory-practice relationship. As before, the various perspectives may contradict, complement or just co-exist with one another.
First we will consider some approaches that appear to ‘fly in the face’ of both theoretical and practical understanding by claiming to ‘cure’ autism. This preliminary discussion will provide an assessment of the therapeutic and ethical principles that should guide practical interventions.