The latest estimates from the Center for Disease Control tell us that one in 68 children suffer from autism spectrum disorder, and that estimate increases with every new report. The reasons for the increase are not entirely clear. Better surveillance and increased identification certainly play a role, but factors like genetics and environmental triggers play a part as well. What we do know is that the disorder can be devastating to the individual and the family. Symptoms such as impaired social relationships, lack of or limited communication, fixation on particular topics or actions and sometimes severe problem behavior can turn everyday events into nearly insurmountable obstacles. Though a cure still isn’t in sight, a growing body of research gives us an evidence base from which to work. In 2012 Missouri’s ASD Guide to Evidence-based Interventions was published through the efforts of the Missouri Autism Guidelines Initiative (MAGI). Available free at, the manual provides summary information regarding a variety of popular treatments for individuals with autism and classifies these treatments according to designations by six major research reviews. A similar manual outlining appropriate diagnostic expectations is also available. Other organizations such as Autism Speaks and Missouri Families for Effective Autism Treatment can also be great resources about autism and its treatment for families any anyone interested in learning more. While we don’t have a cure, we do have tools. We need knowledgeable people taking advantage of those tools to help our students and children.
by Donald McCary and Jenny Frisbee, Special School District of St. Louis County