Autism Therapists in San Francisco, CA

Photo of Andrew Vogl in San Francisco, CA
Andrew Vogl
MA, BCBA
Verified Verified
1 Endorsed
San Francisco, CA 94114
I provide coaching and therapy for autism and Asperger's and have been doing so for 30 years. Most of my clients consider themselves autistic or on the autism spectrum. My clients learn to understand autism on a deeper level. I work with my clients on black-and-white thinking, expressing emotions, the need for masking, and understanding the needs of others. My clients learn to prioritize flexibility from a heartfelt standpoint to achieve a better career, relationship, or social life. I also train parents to teach this process to their children. Parents learn to address difficult behaviors and limitations in communication.
I provide coaching and therapy for autism and Asperger's and have been doing so for 30 years. Most of my clients consider themselves autistic or on the autism spectrum. My clients learn to understand autism on a deeper level. I work with my clients on black-and-white thinking, expressing emotions, the need for masking, and understanding the needs of others. My clients learn to prioritize flexibility from a heartfelt standpoint to achieve a better career, relationship, or social life. I also train parents to teach this process to their children. Parents learn to address difficult behaviors and limitations in communication.
(415) 527-5431 View (415) 527-5431
Photo of Jessica Foley, Psychologist in San Francisco, CA
Jessica Foley
Psychologist, PhD, ABPP-CN
Verified Verified
San Francisco, CA 94104
Dr. Jessica Foley is a board certified clinical neuropsychologist/diplomat of the American Academy of Neuropsychology, and licensed clinical psychologist in the state of California with approx. 20 years of experience conducting neuropsychological evaluation across the lifespan. She has many years of experience in conducting such evaluations in the context of neurologic (e.g., TBI, epilepsy, brain tumor, MS, movement disorders, neurodegenerative), neurodevelopmental (ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Specific Learning Disability) and psychiatric factors interfering with academic, occupational, and other aspects of everyday functioning.
Dr. Jessica Foley is a board certified clinical neuropsychologist/diplomat of the American Academy of Neuropsychology, and licensed clinical psychologist in the state of California with approx. 20 years of experience conducting neuropsychological evaluation across the lifespan. She has many years of experience in conducting such evaluations in the context of neurologic (e.g., TBI, epilepsy, brain tumor, MS, movement disorders, neurodegenerative), neurodevelopmental (ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Specific Learning Disability) and psychiatric factors interfering with academic, occupational, and other aspects of everyday functioning.
(628) 212-7955 View (628) 212-7955
Photo of Riley Jana Morgan | Autism Focused | Neurodivergent Affirming, Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA
Riley Jana Morgan | Autism Focused | Neurodivergent Affirming
Marriage & Family Therapist, MS, LMFT
Verified Verified
2 Endorsed
San Francisco, CA 94115
If you are an Autistic adult seeking autism-focused and neurodivergent affirming therapy, I will help you feel safe, supported, and heard with compassion. I am Autistic myself, which often enhances the therapy experience for my clients. Autism-focused therapy is informed by the neurodiversity affirming model to address your unique concerns by reducing autistic burnout, anxiety, depression, masking, the distress of meltdowns and shutdowns, low self-esteem, and difficulties with work or school performance, among many other concerns. I also welcome your authentic self and support my LGBTQIA+, transgender, non-binary, and BIPOC clients.
If you are an Autistic adult seeking autism-focused and neurodivergent affirming therapy, I will help you feel safe, supported, and heard with compassion. I am Autistic myself, which often enhances the therapy experience for my clients. Autism-focused therapy is informed by the neurodiversity affirming model to address your unique concerns by reducing autistic burnout, anxiety, depression, masking, the distress of meltdowns and shutdowns, low self-esteem, and difficulties with work or school performance, among many other concerns. I also welcome your authentic self and support my LGBTQIA+, transgender, non-binary, and BIPOC clients.
(415) 358-6700 View (415) 358-6700
Photo of Kaitlin Doran, Psychologist in San Francisco, CA
Kaitlin Doran
Psychologist, PsyD
Verified Verified
San Francisco, CA 94109  (Online Only)
I am a queer, autistic licensed clinical psychologist with expertise in high masking Autism, depression and anxiety, LGBTQIA issues, women’s health issues, and life transitions. My approach is warm and collaborative, informed by interpersonal and emotion-focused theories. I foster a safe and nurturing environment from which to gain greater insight and confidence through genuineness, interest, and humor.
I am a queer, autistic licensed clinical psychologist with expertise in high masking Autism, depression and anxiety, LGBTQIA issues, women’s health issues, and life transitions. My approach is warm and collaborative, informed by interpersonal and emotion-focused theories. I foster a safe and nurturing environment from which to gain greater insight and confidence through genuineness, interest, and humor.
(628) 200-3679 View (628) 200-3679
Photo of Adrian Rivera, Clinical Social Work/Therapist in San Francisco, CA
Adrian Rivera
Clinical Social Work/Therapist, LCSW, LICSW
Verified Verified
San Francisco, CA 94117  (Online Only)
I support people of all ages with personal or relationship challenges, mood/anxiety disorders, neuro-developmental differences (ADHD/Autism) and provide educational counseling and advocacy.
Some people struggle for weeks, months, or even years before considering psychotherapy. And it makes sense — it's hard to confide in a stranger and can take a while to find the right fit. We want authenticity and experience in a therapist but also someone relatable and easy to talk with. When couples counseling, family therapy, or child/adolescent support is needed, the search may seem even more daunting. We need a clinician with the interpersonal skills, temperament, and adaptability to forge a meaningful connection with our partners, children, and the networks who support them.
I support people of all ages with personal or relationship challenges, mood/anxiety disorders, neuro-developmental differences (ADHD/Autism) and provide educational counseling and advocacy.
Some people struggle for weeks, months, or even years before considering psychotherapy. And it makes sense — it's hard to confide in a stranger and can take a while to find the right fit. We want authenticity and experience in a therapist but also someone relatable and easy to talk with. When couples counseling, family therapy, or child/adolescent support is needed, the search may seem even more daunting. We need a clinician with the interpersonal skills, temperament, and adaptability to forge a meaningful connection with our partners, children, and the networks who support them.
(510) 901-5736 View (510) 901-5736
Photo of Graham (Woo) Holoch, Marriage & Family Therapist Associate in San Francisco, CA
Graham (Woo) Holoch
Marriage & Family Therapist Associate, AMFT
Verified Verified
1 Endorsed
San Francisco, CA 94104
I specialize in working with teenagers, young adults, adult couples, and families with a member or members on the ASD, and/or diagnosed with ADHD. I am dedicated to supporting neurodiverse folx in identifying and engaging with their goals. My areas of experience include transitioning life stages, "failure to launch" syndrome, social skills, finding community, anxiety, depression, supporting people diagnosed and undiagnosed with ADHD, and the nuanced experience of being on the Autism Spectrum.
I specialize in working with teenagers, young adults, adult couples, and families with a member or members on the ASD, and/or diagnosed with ADHD. I am dedicated to supporting neurodiverse folx in identifying and engaging with their goals. My areas of experience include transitioning life stages, "failure to launch" syndrome, social skills, finding community, anxiety, depression, supporting people diagnosed and undiagnosed with ADHD, and the nuanced experience of being on the Autism Spectrum.
(415) 548-7954 x2 View (415) 548-7954 x2
Photo of Julie Kangas, Psychologist in San Francisco, CA
Julie Kangas
Psychologist, PhD
Verified Verified
San Francisco, CA 94103
I specialize in therapy for Autistic adults. Whether you’ve known you were Autistic your whole life, are newly diagnosed, or self-diagnosed, I can meet you where you’re at in this journey. I believe it is the journey of a lifetime to learn to live in your own body and care for yourself well. I want to help you meet your goals with compassion and the most up-to-date science. We now know that autism doesn’t look the way our culture often expects it to, and we see the harms of treatment models that aim to make you fit in with the neurotypical world. It’s hard living in a world that was not created for you or by you.
I specialize in therapy for Autistic adults. Whether you’ve known you were Autistic your whole life, are newly diagnosed, or self-diagnosed, I can meet you where you’re at in this journey. I believe it is the journey of a lifetime to learn to live in your own body and care for yourself well. I want to help you meet your goals with compassion and the most up-to-date science. We now know that autism doesn’t look the way our culture often expects it to, and we see the harms of treatment models that aim to make you fit in with the neurotypical world. It’s hard living in a world that was not created for you or by you.
(858) 771-2591 View (858) 771-2591
Photo of Shannon Frank-Richter, Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA
Shannon Frank-Richter
Marriage & Family Therapist, LMFT, LPCC, NCC
Verified Verified
1 Endorsed
San Francisco, CA 94132  (Online Only)
Do you struggle with feeling misunderstood or like an outlier among others? I'm a dually licensed California therapist who treats individuals, couples, and families, especially those with autism, unprocessed past trauma, or relational stress. My expansive experience enhances the empathy, relatability, dignity, skill, and understanding desired in a therapist. It's important that you feel that your therapist is a good fit for you, so if you're seeking a seasoned therapist in these relatable life conditions, please connect with me for a free consultation. I provide convenient telehealth via a HIPAA compliant video conferencing format.
Do you struggle with feeling misunderstood or like an outlier among others? I'm a dually licensed California therapist who treats individuals, couples, and families, especially those with autism, unprocessed past trauma, or relational stress. My expansive experience enhances the empathy, relatability, dignity, skill, and understanding desired in a therapist. It's important that you feel that your therapist is a good fit for you, so if you're seeking a seasoned therapist in these relatable life conditions, please connect with me for a free consultation. I provide convenient telehealth via a HIPAA compliant video conferencing format.
(408) 617-8994 View (408) 617-8994
Photo of Lori Mothersell, Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA
Lori Mothersell
Marriage & Family Therapist, MA, MFT
Verified Verified
2 Endorsed
San Francisco, CA 94123
I have extensive experience of Autism.
I work with individuals, couples, and families to guide them to achieve more satisfying, meaningful relationships and social adjustment. I believe therapy is a collaborative, creative process to unveil hidden strengths and courage to motivate change and create new experiences in your life. Creating a therapeutic relationship that feels safe and trusting enough to take personal and emotional risks is important. Through an eclectic approach best suited for my client, I have had success treating a wide range of issues including: anxiety, depression, relationship difficulties, past trauma, and grief/loss.
I have extensive experience of Autism.
I work with individuals, couples, and families to guide them to achieve more satisfying, meaningful relationships and social adjustment. I believe therapy is a collaborative, creative process to unveil hidden strengths and courage to motivate change and create new experiences in your life. Creating a therapeutic relationship that feels safe and trusting enough to take personal and emotional risks is important. Through an eclectic approach best suited for my client, I have had success treating a wide range of issues including: anxiety, depression, relationship difficulties, past trauma, and grief/loss.
(415) 689-9058 View (415) 689-9058
Photo of Ari Daphne Vinion, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in San Francisco, CA
Ari Daphne Vinion
Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, LPCC, LMFT
Verified Verified
2 Endorsed
San Francisco, CA 94102  (Online Only)
I want to support my clients in feeling whole. This can mean learning how to safely unmask your Autism or ADHD, healing traumas old & new, setting healthy boundaries, strengthening communication with partners, learning new ways to approach challenges without shame, or bringing compassion to chronically ill bodyminds. I specialize in working with neurodivergant people and couples. My young clients enjoy my playful interventions that help them feel confident and proud of being uniquely themselves. My adult clients are relived to tackle challenges without shame and ableism.
I want to support my clients in feeling whole. This can mean learning how to safely unmask your Autism or ADHD, healing traumas old & new, setting healthy boundaries, strengthening communication with partners, learning new ways to approach challenges without shame, or bringing compassion to chronically ill bodyminds. I specialize in working with neurodivergant people and couples. My young clients enjoy my playful interventions that help them feel confident and proud of being uniquely themselves. My adult clients are relived to tackle challenges without shame and ableism.
(510) 916-2134 View (510) 916-2134
Photo of Victoria A Brekelmans, Marriage & Family Therapist Associate in San Francisco, CA
Victoria A Brekelmans
Marriage & Family Therapist Associate, AMFT, APCC, MA
Verified Verified
4 Endorsed
San Francisco, CA 94101  (Online Only)
I work with a wide range of clients, each facing their own set of challenges. Whether it's dealing with issues related to eating or embracing neurodiversity like autism and ADHD, I strive to create a warm and inviting environment for self-discovery. I have a wealth of experience working with kids, teens, and the LGBTQ+ community. As someone who identifies as queer, my goal is to create a supportive and empowering space for fellow LGBTQ+ individuals.
I work with a wide range of clients, each facing their own set of challenges. Whether it's dealing with issues related to eating or embracing neurodiversity like autism and ADHD, I strive to create a warm and inviting environment for self-discovery. I have a wealth of experience working with kids, teens, and the LGBTQ+ community. As someone who identifies as queer, my goal is to create a supportive and empowering space for fellow LGBTQ+ individuals.
(707) 896-8589 View (707) 896-8589
Photo of The Luna Centre, Psychologist in San Francisco, CA
The Luna Centre
Psychologist
Verified Verified
San Francisco, CA 94129
She is Trained in Mindfulness Facilitation (TMF) from the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center (MARC) and completed a three-year postdoctoral training in neurodevelopment, psychodiagnostic and Autism evaluations at UCLA.
A full service psychology practice addressing wide-range of mental health difficulties through evaluations, individual or couples therapy. To treat difficulties, we use evidence-based evaluations and therapeutic interventions. When emotional difficulties impact certain areas of your life, you may need an evaluation to address impaired areas of your life, such as: Disability Evaluations (Employment), Emotional Support Animal Evaluations (Residence), Psychological Assessments (Academic, Accommodations, Diagnostic Clarification), Immigration Evaluations (Extreme hardship waivers, cancellation, asylum, VAWA, U visa, and T visa).
She is Trained in Mindfulness Facilitation (TMF) from the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center (MARC) and completed a three-year postdoctoral training in neurodevelopment, psychodiagnostic and Autism evaluations at UCLA.
A full service psychology practice addressing wide-range of mental health difficulties through evaluations, individual or couples therapy. To treat difficulties, we use evidence-based evaluations and therapeutic interventions. When emotional difficulties impact certain areas of your life, you may need an evaluation to address impaired areas of your life, such as: Disability Evaluations (Employment), Emotional Support Animal Evaluations (Residence), Psychological Assessments (Academic, Accommodations, Diagnostic Clarification), Immigration Evaluations (Extreme hardship waivers, cancellation, asylum, VAWA, U visa, and T visa).
(310) 706-2337 View (310) 706-2337
Photo of Bonnie Landau Weed, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in San Francisco, CA
Bonnie Landau Weed
Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, LPCC, PPS
Verified Verified
2 Endorsed
San Francisco, CA 94103  (Online Only)
I work with clients from 12 years to adulthood, with a specialty focused on neurodivergent individuals with autism, ADHD as well as adults struggling with social anxiety or life transitions.
I specialize in working with neurodivergent individuals, parents of neurodivergent kids, social anxiety, and midlife transitions. I believe counseling is more than sharing feelings; it is a collaborative exploration and solution-finding that empowers you to learn how to manage life stressors. My counseling style is warm, empathetic, honest, and direct. You can expect it to be goal-oriented, with plenty of space for processing emotions. I use a holistic approach, knowing that people learn and grow in different ways. We work as a team to heal old patterns and develop new skills. I offer Safe and Sound Protocol.
I work with clients from 12 years to adulthood, with a specialty focused on neurodivergent individuals with autism, ADHD as well as adults struggling with social anxiety or life transitions.
I specialize in working with neurodivergent individuals, parents of neurodivergent kids, social anxiety, and midlife transitions. I believe counseling is more than sharing feelings; it is a collaborative exploration and solution-finding that empowers you to learn how to manage life stressors. My counseling style is warm, empathetic, honest, and direct. You can expect it to be goal-oriented, with plenty of space for processing emotions. I use a holistic approach, knowing that people learn and grow in different ways. We work as a team to heal old patterns and develop new skills. I offer Safe and Sound Protocol.
(805) 262-8695 View (805) 262-8695
Photo of Spectrum Psych | Los Angeles, Psychologist in San Francisco, CA
Spectrum Psych | Los Angeles
Psychologist, PhD
Verified Verified
San Francisco, CA 94102
Clinicians in our practice have trained at top programs specializing in the assessment and intervention of neurodivergent individuals, with primary focus on autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, learning disorders, behavioral challenges, anxiety, and mood concerns.
We offer coordinated mental health care, including diagnostic assessments, psychotherapy, psychiatry, occupational therapy, group therapy, and support groups. We help children, adolescents, and adults improve their ability to regulate their emotions, target anxiety and depression, increase flexibility, bolster executive functioning, improve friendships and social relationships, and build independent living skills. We also offer parent support services to build connection and decrease challenging behaviors at home, usually empirically-based strategies. Treatment is always individualized to target specific goals based on unique needs.
Clinicians in our practice have trained at top programs specializing in the assessment and intervention of neurodivergent individuals, with primary focus on autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, learning disorders, behavioral challenges, anxiety, and mood concerns.
We offer coordinated mental health care, including diagnostic assessments, psychotherapy, psychiatry, occupational therapy, group therapy, and support groups. We help children, adolescents, and adults improve their ability to regulate their emotions, target anxiety and depression, increase flexibility, bolster executive functioning, improve friendships and social relationships, and build independent living skills. We also offer parent support services to build connection and decrease challenging behaviors at home, usually empirically-based strategies. Treatment is always individualized to target specific goals based on unique needs.
(424) 374-3991 View (424) 374-3991
Photo of Allyson Gayle Moore, Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA
Allyson Gayle Moore
Marriage & Family Therapist, BCBA, LMFT
Verified Verified
San Francisco, CA 94101  (Online Only)
Waitlist for new clients
I am a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and Licensed Marriage Family Therapist (LMFT) with comprehensive knowledge and extensive experience serving individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other developmental, intellectual, and mental health disabilities, as well as supporting, collaborating, and coordinating care with their families and other service providers.
I am a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and Licensed Marriage Family Therapist (LMFT) with comprehensive knowledge and extensive experience serving individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other developmental, intellectual, and mental health disabilities, as well as supporting, collaborating, and coordinating care with their families and other service providers.
(415) 301-2529 View (415) 301-2529
Photo of Dr. Sasha Guillory, Psychologist in San Francisco, CA
Dr. Sasha Guillory
Psychologist, PsyD
Verified Verified
San Francisco, CA 94105
I specialize in working with marginalized youth populations particularly neurodivergent (autism, ADHD, HSP), BIPOC, and LGBTQ youth.
Hi parents! Is your kid a little quirky, unconventional, shy, or sensitive? I have a warm and authentic approach to therapy that often appeals to young people who struggle to open up. If you are looking to support your child's mental health, functioning, and future growth I would love to help.
I specialize in working with marginalized youth populations particularly neurodivergent (autism, ADHD, HSP), BIPOC, and LGBTQ youth.
Hi parents! Is your kid a little quirky, unconventional, shy, or sensitive? I have a warm and authentic approach to therapy that often appeals to young people who struggle to open up. If you are looking to support your child's mental health, functioning, and future growth I would love to help.
(510) 647-6091 View (510) 647-6091
Photo of Tracy De Soto MFT, Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA
Tracy De Soto MFT
Marriage & Family Therapist, MFT, LPC, CCTP-II
Verified Verified
1 Endorsed
San Francisco, CA 94101  (Online Only)
Are you neurospicy?! Welcome! Being a woman with autism can make you feel invisible and marginalized. From a young age, many of us navigate a world that expects us to fit into narrow social norms, constantly masking our true selves to blend in. The struggle to decode social cues, manage sensory overload, and process overwhelming emotions can feel isolating and exhausting. In childhood, we are often labeled shy or aloof when in reality, we were grappling with sensory sensitivities or struggling to express ourselves verbally. As we grow into adolescence and adulthood, the pressure to conform to societal expectations intensifies.
Are you neurospicy?! Welcome! Being a woman with autism can make you feel invisible and marginalized. From a young age, many of us navigate a world that expects us to fit into narrow social norms, constantly masking our true selves to blend in. The struggle to decode social cues, manage sensory overload, and process overwhelming emotions can feel isolating and exhausting. In childhood, we are often labeled shy or aloof when in reality, we were grappling with sensory sensitivities or struggling to express ourselves verbally. As we grow into adolescence and adulthood, the pressure to conform to societal expectations intensifies.
(415) 301-6877 View (415) 301-6877
Photo of Illume Psychology Incorporated, Psychologist in San Francisco, CA
Illume Psychology Incorporated
Psychologist, PsyD
Verified Verified
San Francisco, CA 94103
I provide developmental assessments (identifying the presence of autism and other developmental differences), ADHD diagnosis, and personality/mood evaluations.
You may be here because you have unanswered questions or concerns about your child. You may be wondering if your child's development is on track. You may have concerns about their ability to focus and be successful in school. Your child may be struggling in their social relationships or you may be struggling to manage their challenging behaviors. As parents, it is heart-wrenching when we realize our children are struggling and we don't know how best to support them.
I provide developmental assessments (identifying the presence of autism and other developmental differences), ADHD diagnosis, and personality/mood evaluations.
You may be here because you have unanswered questions or concerns about your child. You may be wondering if your child's development is on track. You may have concerns about their ability to focus and be successful in school. Your child may be struggling in their social relationships or you may be struggling to manage their challenging behaviors. As parents, it is heart-wrenching when we realize our children are struggling and we don't know how best to support them.
(707) 876-0681 View (707) 876-0681
Photo of Cassandra Holt Kimbell, Licensed Professional Counselor in San Francisco, CA
Cassandra Holt Kimbell
Licensed Professional Counselor, MSEd, LPCC-S, NCC, EMDR, CIT
Verified Verified
4 Endorsed
San Francisco, CA 94103
Everyone deserves to feel balanced and deserves to have a safe space to let go and share. Nobody should ever feel alone or always have to be “the strong one”. I use an eclectic model- combining pieces of CBT, SFBT, EMDR and Mindfulness-Based Practices and customize them to fit the person in front of me. I am listening, taking it all in, and deciding which pieces may be of most help to you and your life. I specialize in working with creatives and neurodivergent humans. I go above and beyond to provide the best care for my clients free of judgement. (On a short waitlist but scheduling EMDR intensives and Autism/ADHD Assessments).
Everyone deserves to feel balanced and deserves to have a safe space to let go and share. Nobody should ever feel alone or always have to be “the strong one”. I use an eclectic model- combining pieces of CBT, SFBT, EMDR and Mindfulness-Based Practices and customize them to fit the person in front of me. I am listening, taking it all in, and deciding which pieces may be of most help to you and your life. I specialize in working with creatives and neurodivergent humans. I go above and beyond to provide the best care for my clients free of judgement. (On a short waitlist but scheduling EMDR intensives and Autism/ADHD Assessments).
(214) 480-4943 View (214) 480-4943
Photo of Danielle Brandys, Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA
Danielle Brandys
Marriage & Family Therapist, MA, LMFT
Verified Verified
San Francisco, CA 94110
I provide evidence-based, compassionate, and supportive therapy treatment to individuals struggling with anxiety, dating, peer relationships, life transitions, and personal/career/school related development. My approaches include a mix of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), attachment-based therapy, coaching, and exposure therapy. I have a vast interest and experience in treating different areas and types of anxiety, assertiveness, panic, self-advocacy, dating, self esteem, and autism spectrum disorder.
I provide evidence-based, compassionate, and supportive therapy treatment to individuals struggling with anxiety, dating, peer relationships, life transitions, and personal/career/school related development. My approaches include a mix of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), attachment-based therapy, coaching, and exposure therapy. I have a vast interest and experience in treating different areas and types of anxiety, assertiveness, panic, self-advocacy, dating, self esteem, and autism spectrum disorder.
(650) 563-5643 View (650) 563-5643

See more therapy options for San Francisco

Autism Therapists

What is the most effective treatment for autism?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has come to be considered the standard treatment for children with autism spectrum disorder, and research has confirmed its effectiveness for many children. Therapists trained in ABA techniques work with children (and their parents) on developing social skills, communication and learning abilities, and everyday habits of hygiene and grooming. The clinician will tailor their program to the child’s particular need but the overarching goal will be to help them advance as far as possible toward independence based on their level of symptoms and decrease the need for additional special services. Families should seek a mental health professional specifically trained in ABA, and holding special certification in the technique, who has extensive experience not only with the approach but in using it with children with the same level of symptoms as the child who needs care.

How does ABA work?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) sessions, which typically focus on positive reinforcement, can be intensive, lasting two or more hours several times a week, and continuing for two years or more. Therapists can also be expected to ask parents to take an active role in reinforcing lessons. Research has found that the technique can lead to major improvements that decrease the need for additional special services.

How does treatment for autism work?

Therapy sessions based on Applied Behavior Analysis will likely be frequent, intensive, and highly structured. After a thorough assessment, a therapist will help a child understand and develop skills in a range of areas, including communication, motor skills, social skills, self-care, play, and academic skills, as well as routines of daily living like hygiene. Typically, the therapist will help a child break down the components of a behavior—often referred to as the antecedent (what prompts an action), the behavior, and the consequence(what immediately follows)—and then reward the child at every step, while also asking parents to reinforce the lessons, and the rewards, throughout the day. This core therapy may be supplemented by occupational or speech therapy, and antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anticonvulsants may be prescribed to address specific severe symptoms.

How long does therapy for autism take?

Some people with autism spectrum disorder may be engaged in some level of therapy for many years, but research shows that treatment will be most effective if it is begun early and delivered intensively. When therapy begins by age 3, children tend to be better able to grasp and adopt the skills needed to manage everyday life, including attending school and establishing social relationships. This type of early-intervention treatment regimen is highly structured, typically involving 20 to 40 hours of one-on-one therapy per week, along with additional hours of engagement managed by parents, for a period of two years or more, although the duration of treatment is dependent on the child’s level of symptoms and pace of progress.