Pathways Developmental Learning Center

January 9, 2009

Autism Remediation vs. Compensation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Pathways @ 1:59 pm

There appears to be a lot of confusion in the autism community between remediation and compensation. The term ‘therapy’, to me, means a treatment is attempting to remediate, or get to the root of, the autism condition. There is a lot of debate about what it ‘means’ to have autism, ranging from a ‘mental illness’ to purely ‘cognitive deficits’ to a broader, whole-body-systems disorder, including immune system and gut issues in addition to the neurological challenges. Depending on the views of the practitioner, any specific ‘therapy’ may be thought of as attempting to remediate autism from a neurodevelopmental, cognitive, or physiological frame of reference. However, when things like social stories and picture schedules are listed as ‘therapy options’ for parents, for some reason this really annoys me. These are not treatments for autism – in other words, using social stories and picture schedules are not going to make a child any less autistic. They may be useful, functional and allow the child to cope, yes…I am not saying they should not be used or are not helpful. But if any progress is to be made in the autism field as far as getting to the root of the disorder, maximizing potential for progress, and actually building new neural pathways, then I believe it is important that people understand the difference. Otherwise, a family may spend years teaching through picture schedules or social stories thinking they are ‘remediating’ when in fact they are compensating. This is okay, as long as a remediation program is also in place – however, years of compensation without also focusing on remediation will not likely result in lasting meaningful changes in quality of life. I think websites which attempt to educate parents about therapy options should at least differentiate between ‘Therapy’ and ‘Strategies’ (e.g. compensations). Just my 2 cents.

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