Behavioral training teaches people of all ages who have
autism how to communicate appropriately. This type of
training can reduce behavior problems and improve adaptation skills.
Both behavioral training and behavioral management use positive
reinforcement to improve behavior. They also use social skills training to
improve communication. The specific program should be chosen according to the
child's needs. High-functioning autistic children may be enrolled in mainstream
classrooms and child care facilities—watching the behavior of other normally
developing children can provide examples for autistic children to follow. But
other children are overstimulated in a regular classroom and work best in
smaller, highly structured environments.
Consistent use of these
behavioral interventions produces the best results. The child's functional
abilities, behavior, and daily environment should be thoroughly assessed before
behavioral training and management begins.footnote 1 Parents,
other family members, teachers, and caregivers of the autistic child should all
be trained in these techniques.
Many treatment approaches have
been developed, including:
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). This treatment is based on the theory that behavior rewarded is
more likely to be repeated than behavior ignored. It focuses on giving the
child short simple tasks that are rewarded when successfully completed.
Children usually work for 30 to 40 hours a week one-on-one with a trained
professional. Some practitioners feel this method is too emotionally draining
and demanding for a child with autism. Yet, years of practice has shown that
ABA techniques result in new skills and improved behaviors in some children
TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children). This is a
structured teaching approach based on the idea that the environment should be
adapted to the child with autism, not the child to the environment. Teaching
strategies are designed to improve communication, social, and coping skills.
Like ABA, TEACCH also requires intensive one-on-one training.
These treatments are not covered
by all insurance plans.
Myers SM, et al. (2007, reaffirmed 2010). American Academy of Pediatrics clinical report: Management of children with autism spectrum disorders. Pediatrics, 120(5): 1162–1182.