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Autism (cont.)

Autism Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapies

Behavioral therapy is the foundation for most treatment programs for children with autism. More than 30 years of research has shown the benefit of applied behavioral methods in improving communication, learning, adaptive behavior, and appropriate social behavior while reducing inappropriate behavior in children with autism. There is strong evidence that these interventions are most effective when started early, typically in the preschool years. A range of scientifically supported behavioral treatment has been developed that may be helpful for some children with autism. These are mainly based on the principles of applied behavior analysis.

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is designed to both correct behavior and teach skills for dealing with specific situations. It is based on the principle of reinforcement: that behavior can be changed by rewarding desired behavior and removing reinforcement for unwanted behavior. The person will naturally repeat behaviors for which he or she is rewarded. This principle is applied in many different ways, such as discrete trial training, incidental teaching, errorless learning, and shaping and fading. Most treatment programs include a number of ABA therapies.

These comprehensive treatment approaches differ in their specifics but are highly structured, intensive programs in which the child spends a large amount of time (15-40+ hours per week), usually in one-to-one activities with a therapist, to change behaviors. Behavioral therapists typically collaborate with parents, school personnel, and community professionals in providing a comprehensive treatment program that is individualized to meet each child's specific needs.

Positive behavioral interventions and support are designed to replace problem behaviors with positive behaviors and improve the person's quality of life. Like other approaches, this approach requires examination of the individual's unique strengths and problems and development of strategies to improve his or her quality of life overall.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/18/2014

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