Is autism care or nature

Therapies for autism

Which therapies have proven effective?

Since there is still no clarity about the interaction of the various causative factors in autism, causal therapy is not possible. Since the extent of an autistic disability can also be very different, this inevitably requires a procedure that is based on the individual case and the respective level of development.

In any case, a multi-dimensional approach (“complex therapy”) appears to be useful. Parents, therapists and other professionals should work closely together when creating a treatment plan. Autism clinics, child and adolescent psychiatrics provide assistance.

There are around 30 different treatment approaches (Baron-Cohen 1996, Dzikowski 1990, Janetzke 1993, Weiß 2002), some of which have proven to be particularly useful. These procedures, which cannot be presented in detail here, include:

  • Attention interaction therapy (Hartmann),
  • Sensory Integration Therapy (Ayres),
  • Differential Relationship Therapy (Janetzke),
  • Behavior therapy,
  • TEACCH programs (Schopler),
  • Occupational therapy,
  • Music therapy,
  • Language-supporting and language-replacing therapies,
  • Body-related procedures,
  • Drug therapies.

The following possibilities exist how the right of people with autism to participate in the life of the community and in working life can be effectively supported:

  • As soon as there is a suspicion of an autistic disability, a diagnostic work-up should ideally be carried out in an autism center or in child and adolescent psychiatry.
  • Even with an impending disability, there is a right to early intervention by regional early intervention centers. It has been shown that development can be positively influenced by early support for relatives in their upbringing and by suitable therapeutic interventions.
  • The relatives can also take advantage of the family relief services (FED) in the region. The outpatient disability assistance offers relatives who need time to relax or to carry out other important tasks the opportunity to have the disabled children looked after by specialists on an hourly basis, on weekends or as part of leisure activities.
  • A number of model experiments have shown that integration into a regular kindergarten is not only desirable, but also possible if special framework conditions (small groups, opportunities for retreat, knowledgeable carers for the disabled children, work with parents and active group integration) are created (cf. Chapter “Non-segregating support for disabled children in day-care centers”). Otherwise, special kindergartens, in Bavaria preparatory schools (SVE) come into question.
  • The autism outpatient clinics are an important aid in therapeutic support (see BV HAK).
  • The counseling teachers for autism can also provide assistance in choosing a suitable school based on the “Recommendations for Schooling Autistic Children” (Kultusministerkonferenz, cf. Kaminski et al. 2000). Basically, almost any type of school can be considered, depending on the severity of the disability. For integrative schooling, small classes with no more than 20% of children with disabilities, qualified remedial teachers, relevant advanced training for educational staff, individual support and curriculum plans, suitable didactic material and specific spatial requirements are required (cf. Kaminski et al. 2000) .
  • Vocational training for young people with autism, insofar as training on the general labor market with training-accompanying aids is not possible, can also take place in inter-company training centers (vocational training centers). At the BBW Abensberg there is currently a project funded by the Federal Ministry for Health and Social Security for the professional advancement of young people with autism.
  • A professional activity on the general labor market usually requires the placement of suitable jobs by the job assistants of the integration services for the professional integration of disabled people (IFD). Experience has shown that participation in working life, as required by SGB IX, is not possible without a job coach who introduces and accompanies autistic people at work.
  • People with an autistic disability can also be supported in workshops for disabled people (WfbM) in the vocational training area for two years and finally work in a protected production area. Today there are about 60% of adults with autism there.
  • People with severe and multiple disabilities who are not (yet) able to perform a minimum amount of economically usable work are looked after in the workshops affiliated with support groups or in special educational day care centers.

Today, people with autism mostly grow up in their parents' home. Since they usually need help even in adulthood to cope with their everyday lives, they are dependent on a suitable form of living. Only a few can live completely independently; some can manage with little support in assisted living arrangements. 75% are dependent on small residential units, shared apartments or full-time facilities for the disabled. They should preferably be accommodated in facilities that are characterized by their manageability, small group size (4-6 residents), caregivers who are familiar with autism and which are integrated into the living environment. This seems necessary because in the course of life there can always be critical developments that require professional skills. In individual cases, short-term accommodation in a psychiatric clinic for crisis intervention can be indispensable. The further development of suitable community-integrated forms of housing for severely and multiply handicapped people with autism is necessary in order to avoid a misplacement in psychiatry, which does not seem suitable for a long-term stay.

Quite a few adults would like to enter into a permanent partnership or start a family. However, it has been shown that communication deficits and the extent of social impairment when dealing with the opposite sex are usually insurmountable hurdles.

People with autism need lifelong help in order to cope with the demands of everyday life in a differentiated society. Today we know much more than before about how these people can be promoted and supported so that they can take their rightful place in society and lead a happy life.

To make use of this knowledge, to create favorable conditions for the best possible support and prerequisites for an integrated life of autistic people in society, is the declared aim of the federal association and the regional associations Help for the autistic child. All inquiries relating to diagnosis and support, training and education, therapy and housing, work and social integration can be directed to these associations.

Important contact address

Federal Association for Help for Autistic Children (BV HAK)

Association for the Promotion of Autistic People
Bebelallee 141
22297 Hamburg
Tel .: 040/5115604




  • Baron-Cohen, S .; Bolton, P. (1996): Autism. The facts. Oxford University Press, New York
  • BV HAK (ed.): Memorandum on the situation of autistic people in the Federal Republic of Germany. Hamburg 2001 (contains the current basic knowledge about autism, important literature references and information on brochures on various topics and lists of symptoms that were published by the BV, as well as the addresses of all regional associations and outpatient clinics)
  • BV HAK (ed.): Professional integration of autistic adults (edited by M. Dalferth). Hamburg 1996
  • Dzikowski, St .; Arens, Ch. (Ed.) (1988, 1990): Autism Today, Vol. I and II. New Aspects of Support for Autistic Children. vml., Dortmund
  • Janetzke, H. (1993): Keyword autism. Heyne, Munich
  • Kaminski. M .; Rumpler, F .; Stoellger, N. (Ed.) (2000): Educational support for autistic children and adolescents with autism. Conference report, ed. from BV HAK and VDS, Würzburg
  • Remschmidt, H. (2000): Autism. Manifestations, causes, help. Beck, Munich
  • Schopler, E .; Lansing, M .; Waters, L. (2000): Exercise Instructions for Supporting Autistic and Developmentally Disabled Children. vml., Dortmund
  • Weiß, M. (2002): Autism. A comparison of therapies. Marhold, Berlin

Further contributions by the author can be found here in our family handbook


Prof. Dr. phil. Matthias Dalferth (Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of BV Help for the Autistic Child)
Regensburg University of Applied Sciences
FB Social Affairs
P.O. Box 12 03 27
D-93025 Regensburg

Tel .: 0941/9431087/81



Created on February 7, 2004, last changed on March 16, 2010