Behavior and Communication Approaches
According to reports by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Research Council, behavior and communication approaches that help children with ASDs are those that provide structure, direction, and organization for the child in addition to family participation.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
A notable treatment approach for people with an ASD is called applied behavior analysis (ABA). ABA has become widely accepted among health care professionals and used in many schools and treatment clinics. ABA encourages positive behaviors and discourages negative behaviors in order to improve a variety of skills. The child’s progress is tracked and measured.
There are different types of ABA. Following are some examples:
Discrete Trial Training (DTT)
DTT is a style of teaching that uses a series of trials to teach each step of a desired behavior or response. Lessons are broken down into their simplest parts and positive reinforcement is used to reward correct answers and behaviors. Incorrect answers are ignored.
Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI)
This is a type of ABA for very young children with an ASD, usually younger than five, and often younger than three.
Pivotal Response Training (PRT)
PRT aims to increase a child’s motivation to learn, monitor his own behavior, and initiate communication with others. Positive changes in these behaviors should have widespread effects on other behaviors.
Verbal Behavior Intervention (VBI)
VBI is a type of ABA that focuses on teaching verbal skills.
Other therapies that can be part of a complete treatment program for a child with an ASD include:
Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship-Based Approach (DIR; also called "Floortime")
Floortime focuses on emotional and relational development (feelings, relationships with caregivers). It also focuses on how the child deals with sights, sounds, and smells.
Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication-handicapped CHildren (TEACCH)
TEAACH uses visual cues to teach skills. For example, picture cards can help teach a child how to get dressed by breaking information down into small steps.
Occupational therapy teaches skills that help the person live as independently as possible. Skills might include dressing, eating, bathing, and relating to people.
Sensory Integration Therapy
Sensory integration therapy helps the person deal with sensory information, like sights, sounds, and smells. Sensory integration therapy could help a child who is bothered by certain sounds or does not like to be touched.
Speech therapy helps to improve the person’s communication skills. Some people are able to learn verbal communication skills. For others, using gestures or picture boards is more realistic.
The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
PECS uses picture symbols to teach communication skills. The person is taught to use picture symbols to ask and answer questions and have a conversation.