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Educational Therapies

Following are some popular educational therapies used by parents and educators of children with autism. Research into these and other interventions, such as dietary therapies, continues as experts learn more about the nature of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). For more information, visit Autism Speaks.

ABA, or Applied Behavior Analysis is a common and well-researched non-medical treatment available for autism. Based on the theories of behaviorism, ABA uses a reward system to teach learners everything from language skills to social skills. ABA was developed by Dr. Ivar Lovaas, and is used all over the world.

DTT, or Discrete Trial Training , is a direct teaching methodology based upon the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). While sometimes referred to as “ABA  ”, it is not synonymous. It represents only one of dozens of teaching strategies within the field of ABA. Discrete Trial Training is a technique for managing learning opportunities so that skills are more easily mastered by the child. Learning occurs in small steps.

Floor Time is a child-led play therapy; often used during play time in conjunction with other methods. Floor time involves meeting a child at his current developmental level, and building upon his particular set of strengths, following his lead, wooing him with warm but persistent attempts to engage his attention and tuning in to his interests and desires in interactions. By entering into a child’s world, parents and educators can help him or her learn to relate in meaningful ways.

Integrated Play Groups – the IPG model is designed to support children of diverse ages and abilities on the autism spectrum (novice players) in play with typical peers/siblings (expert players) in home, school and community settings. Children meet regularly in small groups led by a qualified adult facilitator (play guide). Each group is customized as a part of a child’s individual education / therapy program. Through a carefully tailored system of support, emphasis is placed on maximizing children’s developmental potential as well as intrinsic desire to play, socialize and form meaningful relationships with peers. An equally important focus is on teaching the peer group to be responsive, accepting and inclusive of children who relate and play in different ways.

RDI, or Relationship Development Intervention® program , is a remedial program that addresses the typical relationship development problems children with autism encounter. This gradual, systematic program provides parents with powerful tools to teach their children in normal everyday situations, the sophisticated skills necessary to genuinely participate in real-life, ever changing environments. It provides a path for people on the autism spectrum to learn friendship, empathy, and a love of sharing their world and experiences with others. 

SI or Sensory integration therapeutic approach used normally by occupational therapists who help children regulate their sensory responses through activities like swinging, bouncing, or brushing, for example.

Social Stories – a tool for teaching social skills and to understand and recognize feelings. The stories are written in first person and deal with a child's needs and reactions. Social stories provide an individual with accurate information about those situations that he may find difficult or confusing. The situation is described in detail and focus is given to a few key points: the important social cues, the events and reactions the individual might expect to occur in the situation, the actions and reactions that might be expected of him, and why. The goal of the story is to increase the individual’s understanding of, make him more comfortable in, and possibly suggest some appropriate responses for the situation in question.

TEACCH, or theTreatment and Education of Children with Autism with Communication Handicap, seeks to allow children with autism to live autonomously when they reach adulthood. The strategies include improved adaptation through the two strategies of improving skills by means of education and of modifying the environment to accommodate deficits;  parent collaboration, structured teaching versus form free environments, skill enhancement, cognitive and behavioral therapy, and generalized training for professionals rather than specialists.

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