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Can you cure autism?

Laura ShreibmanThere are no cures. And autism therapy is bedeviled by unpredictable outcomes. Even with the best behavioral treatments, which are the only ones to have been scientifically demonstrated to work —  says Laura Schreibman of Psychology, director of the Autism Intervention Research Program at UC San Diego — some children improve dramatically, some only somewhat and others not at all.

A specialist in the experimental analysis and treatment of autism, Schreibman helped develop a naturalistic behavioral intervention strategy called Pivotal Response Training (PRT).

State-of-the-art treatment

Still, it doesn't work every time. And Schreibman, who has been working in the field for more than four decades, says, the future for autism therapies is 1) to find ways to "get it right the first time," identifying patients who will benefit from PRT and 2) to develop individualized therapies.Recognized by the National Academy of Sciences as one of the top 10 state-of-the-art treatments for autism in the United States, PRT engages children and their care-givers.

Science and fiction of autism

As challenging as treatment of autism can be, public misconceptions might be even more challenging. Schreibman's third book, "The Science and Fiction of Autism" published by Harvard University Press in 2005, is devoted to dispelling many of the myths. She continues to talk publicly about how neither "refrigerator mothers" nor vaccines cause autism.

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