SUPPORTING AND TREATING FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN ON THE AUTISTIC SPECTRUM: THE UNIQUE ROLE OF THE GENERALIST PSYCHOLOGIST


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Abstract

Research findings indicate that intensive behavior therapy (e.g., applied behavioral analysis, or ABA) represents an effective treatment for autistic spectrum disorders. Unfortunately, children with autism represent an underserved patient population. Parents often make treatment decisions with insufficient information and report problems in establishing and maintaining treatment programs. This practice review asserts that psychologists, including those without professional certification or coursework in ABA, are in a unique position to assist affected children and their families. Psychologists can provide critical information about evidence-based treatment; offer assistance in overcoming barriers to intensive treatment, including personnel selection; and provide ongoing support to family members. Case examples also illustrate how psychologists can help families address specific barriers to intensive treatment.

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