Information on low cost Autism therapies for Autism and Aspergers syndreome - common Autism Spectrum Disorders


by Barry K. Morris B.ScWk


Unfortunately Autism and Asperger's syndrome do not get the government support that exists for better known disorders and disabilities. This lack of free services can be very frustrating for families unable to afford expensive therapies such as Applied Behavior Analysis. Parents may consider drastic moves such as selling their house because they feel not getting the most expensive therapy is letting their child down. Other parents may be geographically isolated and unable to access therapists and intervention services.


Autism Intervention starts at home

The ideal of any intervention is to have the parents also consistently applying the same principles in the home environment. Even when you can't afford therapies, you may be able to learn the principles and develop your own early intervention program. While a therapist may spend eight hours a week with your child, you are with them more than anyone and can have the greatest impact on your child's development.


It should be stressed that some interventions can have basic principles yet applying them effectively can be very difficult. There may even be cases where a parent could make things worse through a poorly applied intervention style. The ideal is a therapist running a program with the parents applying the same principles. The next best approach would be parents running the program at home with regular supervision from an experienced therapist, which significantly reduces the costs involved. Finally, parents can research all the interventions and put together their own intervention program. It would still be advisable to see if your nearest Autism association for the best books on the intervention chosen. They could also possibly arrange a therapist who might provide free supervision, even if by phone. In some interventions, video tapes of your interactions with your child can be sent to a therapist for their feedback and supervision on your home-based intervention.


Free autism and Asperger's support services

Contact your nearest Autism or Asperger's association and support group. They will be aware of every free or low cost service available in your area. Don't feel ashamed about admitting you can't afford expensive therapies. Even families on higher incomes have often taken on a lot of debt and find themselves in a similar situation.


Because new therapies are being developed constantly, universities and specialist schools may offer free or cheap placements in their programs in the early stages of their development. Read up on their approach to therapy and use these opportunities if the intervention would be useful for your child.


Steps in developing a low cost intervention program

1 The need for detailed objective information

An assessment of your child's Autism or Asperger's syndrome is required. This helps in knowing how much can be learnt, what is the best way to learn, what activities are most likely to present problems, what limitations there may be perceptually, and how you can set things up to maximize abilities.

Family members must objectively decide how much time, money and emotional energy they will be able to commit and how long they will be able to do so. This includes such factors as who will provide transportation to activities, supervision in both the home and the community, and what materials will be needed. An organized program requires the effort of more than one individual unless it is undertaken in extremely small and manageable steps.


2 Develop and implement your program

Now you are ready to set specific rehabilitation goals. Since you are designing your own program, you are free to include only those activities which you feel will be helpful to the autistic child and for which you have the time, resources and energy to follow through.


Your goals will fall under a range of groups and will usually be approached in this order of priority:
Survival skills goals: Daily routines such as showering, grooming, toileting, dressing, sleeping and eating
Communication goals: Communication is affected greatly by Autism and Asperger's syndrome, requiring early intervention to minimize developmental delays in the future
Basic behavioral goals: Challenging behavior, repetitive behaviors, interaction with others
Social/recreational goals: addressing lack of friends and social opportunities
Academic goals: Some children with Autism or Asperger's will be able to successfully enroll in academic programs if the preceding goals have been met sufficiently.
Vocational goals: Children with high functioning Autism or Asperger's often will enter employment although supports may be required.


3 Review progress and amend the program

Reviewing your child's progress is crucial to see whether particular interventions are working, changes to the intervention style are required, or new therapies are required. Ideally, you should meet regularly with a specialist from your Autism or Asperger's association, pediatrician, child psychologist or local doctor for reviews. If finances are very tight, you should hopefully be able to find one of these specialists who can be involved for free or a small charge for low income families.


can I do applied behavior analysis myself?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is one of the most effective interventions, but unfortunately it is one of the most expensive too. Parents often ask if they are able to implement an ABA program themselves.


While the basic principles of Applied Behavior Analysis are simple, adapting and implementing them effectively for your child takes a lot of skill, and there is a reason why ABA therapists spend years in learning, training and being mentored before they can consider themselves an experienced therapist. There is no easy answer as to whether individual parents will be able to use ABA effectively or not.


A well known therapist, Sabra Gelfond-Ingall, says "It is easier for someone who is not the child's parent to withstand a lot of behavior when the child does not want to sit down, etc. Successful initiation of a solid home program can be difficult, time consuming and emotionally draining. We recommend that you take on this task with as much help and support as possible".


home-based therapies with regular consultations

One of the criteria for effective interventions is that they involve parents so that therapy continues in the home. An extension of this is that parents may be able to afford intensive intervention from an Autism therapist initially, but aim to learn the skills involved quickly and take over themselves if they have the expertise and time to do so.


Some more recently developed therapies focus on training the parents to conduct early interventions. Examples of this are Floor Time and Relationship Development Intervention. An advantage of these developmental interventions is the lower cost. Therapy can be largely home-based and run by parents, interspersed with checkups by an appropriate specialist. Parents in isolated areas can still use Floor Time or RDI as video of interactions with the child can be sent to the specialist on a regular basis.


Click to shut down Autism information fact sheet on budget interventions

Click here for the full range of Asperger's and Autism fact sheets at
Click here to read the fact sheet Ten common roadblocks to a home program
This autism fact sheet is under copyright

Unfortunately some families cannot afford Autism interventions or there are no services available for their autistic child. With research, families can prepare their own programs at home.