Question: How can I tell if a recommended treatment for autism is legitimate or a quack treatment?
Answer: Although it's only natural to want to do everything you can for your child after receiving a diagnosis of autism, doing everything possible that is offered without carefully weighing your choices is not a good idea. We encourage our parents to behave like scientists -- carefully weighing the evidence for and against particular treatments. This can be very difficult as there are a wide variety of treatments possible, and emotions are often running high. But it's important to check out your choices carefully because the time, money, and effort you spend in ineffective treatment takes away from things that could work.
There are a number of red flags to look out for when choosing effective treatments. One is if the practitioner is promising you a cure for autism. Another is if you do not understand the mechanism by which the treatment is supposed to work or if it is supposed to fix a wide variety of ailments. You clinician should be tracking measurable, observable goals with measurement before and after the intervention so that you know the treatment is actually what is changing your child.
There are a number of national and state policy task forces that have identified best practice treatments for autism. At this time, evidence based interventions including applied behavior analysis techniques have been found to be the gold standard or best practice for treatment.