There are many professions that are specifically designated to help individuals with autism. These professions range from publicly available to private in-home programs. The needs of each child are different and so are the professionals that can best help with their development.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common professions in the field of ASD and talk about who can benefit from their services. This is not a comprehensive list and is not meant to be taken as medical advice. Please listen to the recommendations of your developmental pediatrician or doctor!
The following 8 professions are commonly used to help with the development of individuals with autism. Note that many of these services can be used together–it all depends on the optimal service plan for each individual.
A note that ABA therapy is still the only evidence-based practice for helping the development of individuals with autism. Other programs and therapies can work in tandem with ABA therapy, but may not show the same results without its inclusion.
Applied Behavior Analysis
Applied behavior analysts (ABA) help individuals with autism learn by using ABA therapy, the only evidence-based method for helping symptoms of autism. ABA therapists are often found in clinical settings but they are able to provide in-home services as well. ABA therapists design unique plans for each individual that work with strengths and weaknesses to ensure progression and development.
Special Education Teacher
Special education teachers are typically found in schools, both private and public. These teachers can be trained in many different areas of special education, including autism. If you are sending a child with ASD to a public school, make sure their special education program includes an instructor who specializes in autism.
Certified applied behavior analysts are known as Board-Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA). Clinics may use a combination of BCBAs and other ASD service providers in order to provide the best care to clients.
Related to general ABA therapy, rehabilitation therapists specialize in using ABA therapy in a clinical setting to help with development. Rehabilitation therapists are not BCBAs, but are educated and certified to help with ABA therapy in a clinical setting. Rehabilitation therapists without any direct professional links to a licensed ABA therapy practice are not recommended.
Occupational therapists (OT) specialize in helping clients with everyday activities and duties. Like special education teachers, OTs specialize in many areas, from rehabilitation to autism. OTs may be recommended for helping with a development plan or routine for an individual with autism.
Speech therapists are essential for helping individuals with ASD and verbal communication issues developing speech and language skills. Like most fields on this list, finding a therapist that specializes in helping individuals with autism is crucial, as there are many types of speech therapists.
Social workers that help families with ASD-related issues typically introduce families to care options, plans, and networks. Individuals with more severe ASD-related issues may need specialized services for their entire life–services that many change over time. Having a social worker to help navigate the care landscape can help families select the best services for their needs.
Finding a social worker who is able to help with all of your child’s needs may take time, as social workers specialize in different areas. If you are thinking about utilizing a social worker, make sure to address all your needs and concerns before starting any program.
Developmental Psychologists, Clinical Psychologists, & Pediatricians
A developmental psychologist focuses on human development over the course of a person’s life. Developmental psychologists can help navigate issues and concerns with a specific individual’s development and recommend plans of action. Developmental psychologists are also able to determine if an undiagnosed case of ASD may be the case of developmental delays.
Clinical Psychologists can serve a similar role as developmental psychologists, but for different ASD-related issues. Clinical psychologists may be able to diagnose cases of ASD and will have information on how to proceed for the best development of an individual with autism.
Pediatricians are the first line of defense for identifying ASD and what to do next. While most pediatricians won’t diagnose ASD, they are aware of what warning signs to look for and what to do if they are encountered.
ABA Therapy from IABA Consultants
This article was intended as an overview of professional services and practices you may encounter with finding a program for an individual with ASD. ABA therapy is the only evidence-based method for improving the development and growth of an individual with autism.
If you have questions regarding autism treatment, education, or plans using ABA therapy, we are here for you! Our goal is to make sure no family is turned away due to financial constraints. Our therapy team would love to talk to you. Find the location closest to you and give us a call. We’re here for you.