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Autism Intervention Options for Parent
“Early and intensive behavioral and educational intervention can make a significant positive impact on long-term outcomes” - American Academy of Pediatricians
Your child has received a diagnosis of autism. You are faced with many choices that can seem overwhelming. You have taken an important first step by seeking out information. If you learn as much as you can, visit schools and facilities offering intervention, and consider all your options, you’ll be ready to make a decision about the treatment options that most suit your child’s needs. It may also be comforting to know that The American Academy of Pediatricians advises that recent evidence indicates that “early and intensive behavioral and educational intervention can make a significant positive impact on long-term outcomes.
Potential Members of the Intervention Team
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) recommends that several types of professionals and services be involved in taking care of a child with autism. This team should be under the direction of one professional that will develop, organize, advocate for, and watch over your child’s specific program. The team may include some or all of the following professionals: Developmental Pediatrician, Child Psychiatrist, Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Child Psychologist, Special or General Education Teacher, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, Speech/Language Therapist, Social Worker, Neuropsychologist.
Frequently Used Interventions
Applied Behavior Analysis
“Behavior rewarded (reinforced) is more likely to be repeated than behavior ignored” – central ABA theory
In general, interventions based upon the principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA) have been documented as highly effective in teaching a range of academic, social, communicative, motor, and adaptive skills. The central theory behind ABA is that “Behavior rewarded (reinforced) is more likely to be repeated than behavior ignored.” Behavioral intervention seems to help children “learn to learn.” Research has shown interventions based upon the principles of ABA consistently teach new skills and behaviors to children with autism.
ABA is an intensive approach to intervention and children usually work about up to 40 hours a week with a trained, ideally Board Certified, professional. Waiting lists for Board Certified ABA therapists can be long because the demand is so great.
Speech and Language Therapy
Communication challenges are at the heart of an autism spectrum diagnosis and may contribute to behavior problems. The addition of a speech/language therapist to your child's team may help improve his or her communication skills. Some speech therapists who work with children with autism incorporate the principles ABA into their practice to encourage positive behavior as the children either successfully imitate speech, or communicate properly on their own. A child’s progress in language acquisition can be rated with a tool used by many speech therapists, and other members of the team. The Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills (ABLLS) is an assessment, curriculum guide, and skills tracking system used for children with autism. ABLLS allows therapists and teachers to carefully track a child’s specific task objectives.
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