Treatment is individualized, meaning that the specific components and targets of intervention depend on the specific child, teen or adult. Before beginning treatment, a thorough intake evaluation is completed to ensure that the concerns of the parents and child are identified and prioritized. A useful strategy for targeting social skills and symptoms related to stress, anxiety, and depression often involves cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). In CBT, the relationship between our physical feelings, cognition (our thoughts), emotions, and behaviors are discussed, with the goal of taking control of the thoughts that often contribute to negative emotion and behaviors.
Depending on the language level of the individual, additional strategies are used (e.g., pictures, role playing), to help facilitate learning and practice strategies. As symptoms related to stress, anxiety, and depression improve with treatment, individuals often become more confident, more open to trying and enjoying new experiences, and take on more responsibilities related to self-care; in fact, often times core symptoms related to autism improve as these other symptoms are alleviated, leading to better quality of life. Sometimes it is recommended for a family to consult with a psychiatrist, who may suggest specific medications to help alleviate symptoms related to depression and anxiety, in addition to participating in therapy. In this case, the psychologist and psychiatrist should work together to design and implement the best treatment plan possible for the individual.