Internet survey of treatments used by parents of children with autism

Res Dev Disabil. Jan-Feb 2006;27(1):70-84. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2004.12.002.


We developed an Internet survey to identify treatments used by parents of children with autism. The survey listed 111 treatments and was distributed via colleagues and through chapters of the Autism Society of America and Autism Organizations Worldwide. A total of 552 parents submitted usable returns during the 3-month survey period. On average the parents reported using seven different treatments. The number of treatments used varied as a function of the child's age and type/severity of disability within the autism spectrum. Speech therapy was the most commonly reported intervention, followed by visual schedules, sensory integration, and applied behavior analysis. In addition, 52% of parents were currently using at least one medication to treat their child, 27% were implementing special diets, and 43% were using vitamin supplements. Because parents were using a large number of treatments, many of which lack empirical support, future research should focus on understanding the decision-making processes that underlie treatment selection by parents of children with autism.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autistic Disorder / therapy*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Internet / instrumentation*
  • Parents*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*