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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Treatment of Autism: A Review of the Literature
by Heiman, Kari L., Psy.D., California Institute of Integral Studies, 2012, 155; 3508074
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this literature review was to examine the existing body of research on current psychological and pharmacological treatments for children diagnosed with autism using an integrative review methodology. Using this methodology, the writer was able to conduct a comprehensive review of all relevant research pertaining to therapy for autistic children, synthesize the reviewed data, and develop conclusions. The main criteria for studies to be included in the review were direct relevance to the topics of autism, play therapy, play with the autistic child, and therapeutic interventions for children diagnosed with one of the autistic spectrum disorders. The limited research on combined treatments for the autistic child was also examined.

In reviewing the current literature, this writer explored the etiology and diagnosis of autism as well as current psychological and pharmacological treatments; integrated and synthesized the literature reviewed; discussed clinical relevance and applications; and made recommendations for future research. The review revealed that only limited research has been conducted on treatment outcome evaluating the effectiveness of play therapy for the autistic child, but that there are other empirically validated interventions of demonstrable effectiveness.

Health professionals frequently utilize three specific treatment interventions for autism, each of which is supported by empirical outcome research: Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH), and the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS). These three treatment methods are recommended for treating the autistic child. In addition, specific medications for symptomatic and behavioral issues can be effective in treating some children with ASD.

This writer concluded that currently there is insufficient empirical outcome research available to support the effectiveness of individual psychological treatment based solely upon play therapy with the autistic population. The review highlights the need for future research on play therapy with children diagnosed with autism. Recommendations for directions of future research are offered, with emphasis on developing the ABA approach.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Voigt, Dr. Harrison
Commitee: Bach, Lee
School: California Institute of Integral Studies
Department: Clinical Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 73/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Clinical psychology
Keywords: Autism, Autism therapies and therapeutic interventions, Autistic spectrum disorders, Child psychology, Evidence-based treatment, Outcomes research
Publication Number: 3508074
ISBN: 978-1-267-33624-8
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