There is no cure for autism, and autistic people do not require curative treatment. Instead, there are options available to support autistic people, which may involve psychological, behavioral, and educational therapy.

People sometimes refer to autism as autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The level of support autistic people require can vary widely between individuals. Support strategies for autism aim to help them address challenges that may affect their quality of life, such as social anxiety and difficulty communicating.

This article examines whether there is a cure for autism and outlines the current treatments available. It also looks at the stigma surrounding autism and autism myths and facts.

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There is no cure for autism. Autistic people do not require curative treatment.

They may have varying levels of support needs. Treatments aim to reduce symptoms that might interfere with a person’s quality of life. It can also help them develop strategies and skills to manage and cope with challenges.

If you have an autistic child, there are various ways you can help support them.

You can support them by learning about autism and educating yourself on the potential challenges your child may face and how to manage them.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, you can also support your child by:

  • seeking help from professionals for specific concerns
  • providing consistency through structure and routine
  • connecting with other parents of autistic children
  • connecting with community autism services and resource providers
  • ensuring you take time for yourself and other members of the family
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There are various supportive methods available for autistic children. The type of treatment a child requires can vary, depending on the level of support they need.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlines some treatment options below:

Developmental support

Developmental support involves helping children to develop specific skills. Types of developmental therapy include:

  • Occupational therapy: Occupational therapy can help children learn skills that can help prepare them to live as independently as possible. It can also include:
    • Physical therapy: Some children may benefit from physical therapy to help develop skills such as fine finger movements.
    • Sensory integration therapy: This can help improve a child’s response to sensory input that might feel overwhelming or restrictive.
  • Speech and language therapy: Autistic people have varying levels of communication support needs. Speech and language therapy can help people better understand and use speech and language. It can also help them develop more effective verbal or nonspeaking communication methods.

Educational support

Educational treatments occur in a classroom setting.

Parents and caregivers can work with teachers and specialists to create an Individual Education Program (IEP). An IEP is a written plan that covers the educational goals and the services a person might need at school.

Another type of educational, supportive approach is the Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication-Handicapped Children (TEACCH). This involves adjusting teaching methods to include more visual learning, focusing on consistency.

Psychological support

Psychological therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), may help children cope with issues such as anxiety and depression.

They can also help people change their thoughts and responses to certain situations.

Social support

Social supportive methods focus on developing social skills and helping children build emotional bonds. Types of social treatments include:

  • Social stories: This involves telling simple stories that describe social situations to help children understand what to expect.
  • Floor time: This encourages therapists, parents, and caregivers to follow the child’s interests to encourage more communication.
  • Social skills groups: These involve communication in a group setting to help children practice social skills.
  • The relationship development intervention (RDI) model: This model involves activities for children designed to increase their interest, abilities, and motivation to engage in social interactions.

Applied behavior analysis

Behavioral approaches aim to improve skill development and discourage certain behaviors in autistic children.

Many healthcare professionals and educators use a type of behavioral therapy called Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ABA aims to encourage “desirable” behaviors and discourage or ignore “undesirable” behaviors.

ABA may help improve skill development, such as initiating conversation or communication, and help decrease harmful behaviors.

However, ABA is a controversial treatment, as some autistic self-advocates and others consider it harmful to autistic children. They argue that ABA involves teaching autistic children that the way they act is wrong and that it tries to force them to act like neurotypical children.

This could involve discouraging behaviors such as stimming, which may provide enjoyment and comfort to autistic children. It may also encourage behaviors like making eye contact, which may cause significant stress.


There is no medication to treat the symptoms of autism. However, a doctor may prescribe medication to treat certain co-occurring symptoms, such as gastrointestinal problems, self-harming behavior, or seizures.

If you are autistic or have a loved one who is autistic, support can include:

  • training programs to help prepare and apply for employment
  • training programs to help manage finances
  • housing support through social or private services
  • community support groups and online forums
  • reaching out to friends and family to disclose your diagnosis and how it affects you
  • speaking to your human resources department about adjusting your work environment
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Autistic adults may benefit from many of the same supportive approaches as autistic children, including psychological and developmental therapy and medication for co-occurring conditions.

Specific resources and treatments may also help support autistic adults.

Vocational rehabilitation

People may benefit from meeting with a vocational rehabilitation (VR) coach, who can help assess their strengths and support needs.

A VR coach can help adults find a workplace that suits their needs and abilities and help them retain employment.

Psychiatric and psychological support

Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals who specialize in adult autism may be able to help people cope with mental health difficulties.

Autistic adults often experience stress, anxiety, and depression. Types of psychotherapy, such as acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), may help reduce stress levels and improve a person’s quality of life.

A psychiatrist may also prescribe medication to treat co-occurring mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

Residential and supported living

Some people may require support in their living environments. These may include residential services, such as institutional and group living with additional support, or living alone with support services.

The following organizations provide resources and support for autistic people and their loved ones:

  • Center for Parent Information & Resources: This is an organization that provides resources for families of people with disabilities by state.
  • Autism Society: The Autism Society provides resources and support for autistic people in areas including education, employment, community services, and healthcare.
  • Easterseals: Easterseals is an organization that provides services such as communication development opportunities and training and skill assessment for employment.
  • Autism Awareness Center: This organization provides access to organizations and resources for autistic people.
  • Autistic Self Advocacy Network: The Autistic Self Advocacy Network provides information and resources on various topics related to autism, including community-based housing, care providers, and autism acceptance.

Autistic people face stigma from society due to a lack of understanding about autism and negative beliefs about autistic traits.

Negative stereotypes of autistic people, such as the belief that they are unfriendly or lack emotions, contribute to the stigma.

Autistic people may experience factors that contribute to a lower quality of life due to discrimination, such as loneliness and bullying.

Social stigma may also cause some people to try to camouflage, or mask, their behaviors to attempt to fit in. This can be mentally exhausting and can lead to fatigue, poor mental health, and suicide.

Ways to reduce the stigma that autistic people experience may include:

  • Changing the perception of autism: Many people now recognize the term ‘neurodiversity’ as celebrating autism as part of a person’s identity and highlighting the range of diversity among people.
  • Educating the public: Formal training and education about autism could help decrease stigma and increase understanding of the perspectives of autistic people.
  • Increasing media representation: Positive autistic role models and media representations could help reduce negative attitudes about autistic people.
  • Creating autism-friendly spaces: Adapting environments to be inclusive of autistic people’s needs could help the wider community and the autistic communities integrate and interact.

Autism myths and facts

The stigma surrounding autism may be largely due to misunderstandings and untrue myths about autistic people. These include misconceptions such as:

  • Autism is caused by vaccines: There is no evidence that vaccines cause autism. Various high quality studies have found no links between vaccines and the development of autism.
  • There is a cure for autism: There is no cure for autism, and treatment for autism does not aim to cure people.
  • Autistic people lack empathy and emotions: Autistic people feel empathy and experience emotions. However, they may express their feelings in ways that some may find difficult to recognize.
  • All autistic people have mental disabilities: People on the autism spectrum have a wide range of intellectual abilities, with different intellectual strengths and challenges.

Is autism genetic?

Genetic factors may play a role in autism, as well as environmental and biological factors.

What is masking?

Masking is a social strategy that some autistic people develop so that others perceive them as neurotypical. This may involve behaviors including forcing eye contact, mimicking other people’s gestures, and scripting conversations in advance.

What does autism burnout look like?

Autistic burnout is a state of exhaustion and reduced functioning that autistic people may experience as a result of the stress of long-term masking or efforts to conform to neurotypical behavior.

It may present as an inability to mask autistic behaviors, fatigue, an inability to function and complete tasks, and an increase in meltdowns.

There is no cure for autism. Treatment for autistic people typically involves supportive approaches to help them manage specific challenges.

Supportive approaches include behavioral, developmental, educational, and psychological therapies. There are also resources to support people with employment, assisted living, and other challenges.

The level of support a person requires can vary widely between individuals. Autistic individuals and their loved ones can work with a healthcare professional to devise a plan covering the level of support best suited for their needs.