By: Nina Chesno
Autism Behavior therapy is a specialized type of therapy, that identifies and helps children with autism, or autism spectrum disorders (ASD), to change their inappropriate behaviors.
These behaviors affect their ability to function at home, at school, and in situations requiring interaction with other children or adults.
The diagnosis of autism is made by a medical professional, usually a neurologist or a psychiatrist. An autism diagnosis may cause you to become either distraught or relieved, as it confirms all the suspicions you have had about your child’s behavior.
Both are natural reactions. Remember that the diagnosis has not changed who your child is and how much you love them!
The following professionals can provide autism behavioral therapy with your child and may work as a team:
- Speech Therapists
- Occupational Therapists
- Social workers
- Teachers trained in (Applied Behavioural Analysis) ABA therapy
The autism behavioral therapist will take a case history, where they will ask you many questions to find out your child’s daily activities and how their behavior changes in these situations.
Together you will identify which behaviors are negatively affecting their ability to function independently as well as their interaction with parents, siblings, friends, and adults.
The assessment will involve the therapist observing your child over a period as well as playing games, to identify the most appropriate autism behavior therapy to use.
The purpose of behavior therapy is to teach children how to respond appropriately and positively to different situations that cause them distress.
Signs of Autism
Children with autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) present with a range of behaviors. Since each child is unique, they may not present with all the signs.
Kids with autism often have little or no babbling. They may not respond to their name or use gestures. They also may have difficulties with reciprocal nonverbal gestures such as pointing to the food they want, holding hands up to be picked up.
This symptom may also present itself as a lack of smiling or general lack of facial expressions. Children with autism may also not imitate sounds, or even have a sudden loss of previously acquired speech.
Inappropriate Social Skills
Children with autism often have poor eye contact, no smiling, and a general lack of excitement. This often results in a difficulty interacting with people and animals.
Children with autism may not understand other children’s or adults’ feelings and prefer to play alone and do not want to interact with anyone. This extends to their play where the child on the autism spectrum will be unable to share toys or play constructively.
This can look like flapping hands, rocking, spinning, or lining up toys in a row repetitively as a sole means of play.
Children with ASD often have learning problems, despite having average or above-average intelligence. The ways in which they learn to think and problem-solve can range from highly skilled to severely challenged. They may be very particular about the activities they do which are called restricted play, but this can make it harder for them as they start going through the school system. The aim of autism behavior therapy is to overcome some of these challenges, and give children with autism the skills to achieve interactive play.
Behavioral Autism Therapies
Applied Behavioral Analysis Therapy (ABA)
ABA therapy is the most common and successful method for achieving positive behaviors with children on the autism spectrum. It has been used successfully since the 1960s.
In general, ABA therapy works starts with an individual therapy program will be set up for your child. This will influence what behaviors need to be extinguished and what skills are required to enable them to lead a more meaningful and independent life.
In ABA therapy, autism behavior therapy aims are to teach and understand behavior. The use of positive reinforcement is mainly used in ABA.
The behavior of the child on the autism spectrum will improve if the same rewards are given repeatedly that are meaningful to him. This process can take time, but the more regularly it is done, the more likely the child with autism will repeat the correct or positive behaviors.
Parents report that the lives of their children and family have improved due to the use of ABA therapy. To achieve a successful therapy relationship, the person providing autism behavior therapy, needs to establish a relationship of trust with your child.
Applied Behavioral Analysis Therapy empowers the child with autism as well as the parents to understand and make progress with their child’s developmental skills.
There is no quick fix, but perseverance and positive reinforcement go a long way in the remediation of the behaviours.
The understanding of the ABC acronym can make life meaningful for the child and family.
- An Antecedent Behavior, refers to what happens before a behavior that you are working on occurs.
- This may be a verbal request or exposure to any senses in the environment.
- A resulting Behavior is the child’s response or lack of response to the antecedent. It can be an action, a verbal response, or something else.
- A Consequence is what comes directly after the behavior.
It can include positive reinforcement of the desired behavior, or no reaction for incorrect/inappropriate responses.
ABA therapists use activities such as one-on-one games, get onto the child’s level, and let them choose their own toys or select toys that the child likes.
At first, the child with autism may only be comfortable letting the therapist play beside them, or even just watching them – so the therapist will talk about what they are doing.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy
This is another form of Autism Behavior therapy that concentrates on rewarding positive behavior and punishing negative behavior.
It is a combination of cognitive therapy and behavior therapy,
The autism behavioral therapist will identify the child’s behaviors and look at how their mood triggers them.
In young children, it is difficult to know what their thoughts are, however, the way in which they react to their environment as well as verbal input from children and adults, gives the therapist information to assist the child in coping and using more appropriate behaviora.
Children with autism learn by exposure to the same rewards and withdrawal of rewards to improve their behavior.
The withdrawal of rewards should not be construed as punishments but as a means for shaping the child’s behavioral responses to different situations.
Parents, therapists, and teachers are encouraged to reinforce the new behaviors in daily life.
This is another method used by psychologists in autism spectrum behavior therapy.
Treatment involves teaching children different methods of responding to situations more positively using play, which is adapted to the emotional age of the child.
The therapy may be indirect where the therapist comments on what the child is doing as they play or talks specifically about the inappro https://www.therapyplacenj.com/blog/priate behaviors.
The child with autism usually presents with many sensory issues. This can be extreme sensitivity to some or all the senses:
This refers to what they see, hear, smell, feel, and taste.
The Occupational therapist will work on desensitizing the child with autism to the areas that cause them distress.
Many children with autism are tactile defensive, which means they find different materials or labels on clothing, scratchy.
The Occupational therapist also works on improving the child’s activities of daily living, such as dressing themselves and tying their shoelaces.
Ideas to help your child with autism who experiences difficulties with toilet training will be discussed.
The Occupational Therapist will incorporate sensory integration therapy into her work with the child on the autism spectrum.
Most children with autism or diagnosed on the autism spectrum require Speech Therapy.
Children with autism have difficulty communicating and developing appropriate social language skills.
An individual therapy program is also created for the child with ASD, as the range of communication impairment may be from non-verbal to communicating in complex sentences.
Speech therapy enables the non-verbal child to use gestures, point to pictures, or use a picture exchange communication system. (PECS).
In the older child with autism, communication devices may be used.
Some children with autism spectrum disorder may be able to communicate well but have poor social language skills – this is called Pragmatics.
This is an essential aspect of communication :
- greeting appropriately while looking at the person
- waiting their turn
- asking appropriate questions, for example, not “how old are you?” to a stranger.
- Higher-level language skills, such as questions, problem-solving,
Sometimes a child with autism has little intonation in their voice, so the speech therapist will work on improving their ability to achieve prosody in their speech.
Some children with autism require desensitization therapy as they may be tactile sensitive to different textures of foods.
The speech therapist would expose the child to soft, liquid, solids and then foods such as tuna, fish, or meat.
There is no time that can be predicted as to how long it will take for your child on the autism spectrum, to improve in certain skills.
Some of the different Behavioral Autism Therapies discussed are provided to the child, in a team, so you can be reassured that when your child receives an Individual Education Plan, they will make the best progress possible.
Despite each component appearing to be separate, they interact in a complex way.
This enables the child on the autism spectrum to change their behavior in response to situations causing them anxiety, where they cannot make sense of their world.If you’re interested in learning more, contact The Therapy Place today to see how we can help your child with autism!
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