Behavior therapies are the foundation of treatment for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). While there is no medical treatment or cure for Autism, behavioral programs have helped in successfully managing this neurological disorder that affects about 1 in 54 children in the US every year. A consistent and dedicated approach to early interventions and intensive behavioral therapies can help a child win the battle with Autism.
Behavioral interventions and programs help in:
Improving Function and Independence: By developing the child’s motor, social, communication, reasoning skills, along with self-care abilities and other critical life skills
Reducing Challenging or Interfering Behaviors: By teaching the child self-control and self-monitoring techniques for accomplishing specific tasks
Increasing Consistency of Positive Behaviors: By helping the child identify the triggers that cause disruptive reactions, emotions, or actions, and equipping them with techniques to restrict or counter such behaviors
Here are some interesting facts about the different types of behavior therapies for treating individuals with Autism.
The ultimate goal of all behavior therapy treatments for Autism is to set up the individual with ASD for success in life. Every therapy offers powerful tools and techniques that help individuals with Autism:
Accomplish their academic and professional goals
Behave in a neurotypical manner to assimilate better in society
Therapists who work with children with ASD often use a combination of techniques and therapies based on every child’s unique symptoms. Here are the 5 different behavior therapies for treating individuals with Autism:
1. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy: One of the oldest, most researched, evidence-based treatments for Autism, ABA therapy helps children succeed in distinguishing negative behaviors and reaching positive goals. Experts recommend about 40 hours a week of one-on-one sessions with a certified ABA therapist. The therapy can be even more impactful if parents and caregivers get actively involved and use the ABA techniques in real-world situations, beyond formal therapy sessions. When you start ABA therapy for your child, the therapist will:
Observe your child’s behaviors and discuss the desirable outcomes
Design tailor-made sessions based on your child’s unique needs, symptoms, and therapy goals
2. Relationship Development Intervention (RDI): A relatively new behavior therapy, RDI focuses on social behaviors and relies heavily on the parents of the child with Autism. Essentially, in RDI, the parents are more involved than the certified therapists are. After initial assessment and setting of therapy goals, the parents go through an intensive workshop on applying RDI techniques in everyday life. Subsequently, the therapists review video recordings of how the parents use these techniques with the child in different scenarios and provide feedback for improvisation as applicable.
3. Sensory Integration Therapy: This therapy aims to enhance the child’s sensitivities to sensory stimuli, such as touch, smell, light, sound and more. A trained and experienced therapist carefully introduces the child to higher levels of sensory triggers in a controlled environment. While the goal is to increase tolerance to sensitivities, there is no push or force involved. This therapy involves short duration sessions, and, in most cases, it produces positive results quite quickly.
4. Communication Interventions: Often, interfering behaviors are a result of frustrations or misunderstandings about situations in which children cannot communicate effectively. It is therefore critical to build communication skills in both, verbal and non-verbal children with Autism. While there are many types of communication interventions and techniques, each model focuses on the core deficit – communication. While some techniques rely on assistive devices, such as tablets and mobile phones, others include social learning through games, modeling, and peer tutoring.
5. Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH): The TEACCH model is a ‘whole-of-life’ intervention that maximizes the child’s existing skills and abilities to achieve positive results. Since TEACCH assumes that children with Autism are visual learners, it centers on activities that are visually organized and predictably sequenced. Like ABA therapy, TEACCH has higher chances of success when the parents and caregivers apply its techniques in everyday situations
There are many other programs or therapies used by Autism services experts. The key to successful outcomes is timely diagnoses of ASD, early and intensive behavioral interventions, and commitment to long-term therapy. The right combination of treatments and programs will go a long way in molding the child’s behaviors and maximizing the therapy goals.
AB Spectrum is an Autism early intervention and diagnostic clinic, specializing in the Reggio Emilia ABA philosophy that uses a “Learning through Play” approach and follows the philosophy of Natural Environment Training (NET). They offer Autism services throughout the St. Louis area of Missouri, including in-home ABA therapy sessions and clinic-based programs at St. Charles and Chesterfield, Missouri. Their team of qualified and experienced ABA practitioners includes Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) and Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT) who specialize in several interventions, techniques, and programs based on the principles of ABA. At AB Spectrum, the goal is to create flexible, high-impact, customized learning plans that decrease challenging behaviors in individuals with ASD and improve the overall quality of life of the entire family. For a free consultation, reach out to the ABA therapy professionals at AB Spectrum through their Autism services clinics in Missouri, or call 314-339-7732.