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The Autism Alliance of MetroWest does not endorse or refute any of the treatments listed here. The purpose of this list is to provide parents and educators a starting point in deciding which interventions should be used with their children/students.

 

 

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Treatments and Interventions for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder:
A Basic Glossary

bloy climbing a wallTreatment Summaries Include:

Applied Behavior Analysis
Auditory Integration Therapy
Azrin 24 Hour Toilet Training
Baudhuin Preschool
Cognitive Behavior Methods
Daily Life Therapy
Dietary Treatment
Discrete Trial Training
Facilitated Communication
Fast ForWord
Floor Time
Gentle Teaching
Giant Steps
Holding Therapy
Immune System Therapy
Individual Supports Project
Irlen Lenses
Joint Action Routine
Options
Rhythmic Entrainment Intervention
Secretin
Sensory Integration Therapy
Social Skills Training
TEACCH
Vision Therapy

* References



Applied Behboy on a swingavior Analysis

ABA is based on the analysis and use of antecedent conditions, consequences, shaping, and fading. It involves systematic teaching and intervention techniques to train students to independently perform desired responses. Ongoing and accurate evaluation data is an important element of this technique. A child’s functioning is analyzed to identify skills needed for improved performance and functioning. I. Lovaas and his initial study done with young autistic children demonstrates the potential success of this technique.

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Auditory Integration Therapy

This is the technique used by Georgiana Stehli described in her book The Sound of a Miracle. G. Berard used equipment which has individuals listen to modulated and frequency-filtered sounds (music) over a period of time to reduce sound sensitivity. By correcting this sensory dysfunction, mainly indicated by a hypersensitivity to certain sound frequencies, there can be improvement in behavioral, social and cognitive functioning. Students must be scheduled over a ten day period, with a morning and afternoon session. They must be able to tolerate wearing headphones which cover the ears.

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Azrin 24 Hour Toilet Training

The Azrin and Foxx program, Rapid Toilet Training (RTT) is useful in toilet training children with autism/pdd. It involves intensive training sessions of eight or more hours per day with instructional techniques including prompting, shaping, overcorrecting and fading.

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Baudhuin Preschool

This preschool program was started in 1988 on the campus of Nova Southeastern University in fort Lauderdale, FL. It is a private program. It encourages and supports several different best practices approaches in its program. It emphasizes: ABA principles; discrete trial teaching; picture exchange communication system; social skills training; language based curriculum, and low teacher-student ratio.

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Cognitive Behavioral Methods

Cognitive behavioral modification involves instructing persons to monitor their own behavior. This includes delivering self-reinforcement and other consequences. Behavioral contracts; reinforcement menus designed with students; social scripts; and developing correction plans for mistakes are successful strategies used with higher functioning persons with autism spectrum disorder.

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Daily Life Therapy

An educational method for educating autistic children developed by Kiyo Kitahara. This method is practiced both in Japan and now at the Higashi School in Randolph, MA. The basic principles are: the building up of physical powers thorough physical training to put order into the rhythm of life; the building up of psychological powers with play within a group education so that emotional growth takes place; and the development of intellectual powers so that there is an eradication of characteristic strong obsessions and a normal direction of interest occurs.

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Dietary Treatment


Claims of behavioral and cognitive improvement have been associated with vitamin and mineral supplements, DMG, and allergy-related diets. Bernard Rimland of the Autism Research Institute documents findings showing the safety and efficacy of the nutrients B6 and magnesium in treating individuals with autism. The Great Plains Laboratory in Overland Park, KS can do blood and yeast tests to evaluate the need for altering diets due to food related allergies.

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Discrete Trial Training

This is the specific method by which Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is implemented. It is based on an instructor giving a cue for a student to perform a task and then providing reinforcement for the desired behavior. If the desired response does not result after the cue is given, a child is then physically assisted in making the desired response. These steps are repeated until the student can independently perform them. These responses must first be acquired in a discrete trial format so that it can then be generalized in the natural environment.

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Facilitated Communication

Individuals with severe disabilities such as autism are thought to have a condition called global apraxia. Facilitated Communication (FC) is thought to allow persons unable to communicate independently the opportunity to reveal advanced communication and literary skills. With hand-over-hand support by a facilitator, individuals are able to type their thoughts and beliefs. There continues to be interest in this method for some individuals, despite studies that question the authenticity of the communication that is produced using the FC techniques.

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Fast ForWord

This computer based program developed in San Francisco, CA is designed to train children’s brains to improve weak auditory systems, so that they are able to process language more efficiently. Speech sounds are acoustically altered and introduced at a slow rate with amplified key frequencies. By playing computer games, the child’s progress is recorded and the program automatically adapts to his/her performance. These exercises must be done on a daily intensive schedule: one hour and forty minutes each day, five days a week, for six weeks.

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Floor Time


This technique as documented by S. Weider and S. Greenspan is named floor time because often children’s activities occur on the floor. Floor time therapists attempt to create opportunities for interaction that capitalize on the natural motivations of the child. This is thought to increase the response from the child, foster attention and engagement, two-way communication, the sharing of meanings, and the categorizing and connection of meanings.

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Gentle Teaching

This strategy requires that activities are altered so that children with autism can be successful. Positive verbal interaction and high levels of positive and negative reinforcement must accompany all activities. A more interactive and warm bond will develop between the individual with autism and others if there is unconditional acceptance is the basic premise of this technique.

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Giant Steps


This program was created in Montreal Canada and now is available in parts of the United States. This method focuses on developing primary-sensory motor skills. Skill based instruction to develop cognitive skills and computer literacy can occur while a student is engaged in a physical activity, e.g. swinging, swimming, etc. This development occurs with the assistance of a full-time aide which shadow the child throughout the day and into the home for continuity.

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Holding Therapy


This model is based on the theory that autism can result from a broken bond between parent and child. This bond can be re-established so that normal development can begin by using therapeutic holding techniques, physical proximity, and reinforcing actions when eye contact is made. The caregiver must remain in constant close physical proximity with only two hour or shorter breaks.

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Immune System Therapy

This is based on the evidence of immune system irregularities in the population of individuals with autism spectrum disorder. This is accomplished by a course of intravenous immune globulin, given monthly for six months, in one to two hour infusion periods.

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Individual Supports Project

The Individual Supports Model was created at the University of Southern Florida and is being used in other parts of the United States. This model is based on three essential elements: development of functional communication skills; supported participation in socially inclusive environments; multi-faceted family support. Intensive and individualized support is given short term with the goal of eliminating or reducing problem behaviors and training families/caretakers to address current and future opportunities and obstacles. Components include positive behavioral supports, activity based intervention, and naturalistic and systemic instruction.

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Irlen Lenses

Helen Irlen developed the Irlen method which is predicated on the belief that certain cells in the retina are over-stimulated and send incorrect signals to the brain. Symptoms can include blurring of print, double vision, movement of print, eyestrain, etc. Donna Williams, autistic individual and author of Nobody Nowhere and Somebody Somewhere, writes about its results. The method starts with placing colored overlays over printed pages which are later replaced with colored lenses. These are thought to reduce light sensitivity and perceptual distortions. The timing of how the information is received by the brain is theoretically also changed which allows correct interpretation of visual stimuli.

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Joint Action Routine

A Joint Action Routine (JAR) is a preset script used with existing routines to assist student in communication. Examples of such routines are preparing a snack; cooperative turn taking around games and/or group activities; and eating in a restaurant. JARs are thought to be most appropriate for children who would not otherwise use language or participate in a social situation.

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Options

This treatment was used by the Kaufmans as demonstrated in the movie "Son Rise" and is taught at their Options Institute in Sheffield, MA. It is predicated on imitating the actions of a child with autism/pdd which demonstrates unconditional love. By accepting and capitalizing on his/her unique interactions and abilities through repetition, the child will be leave its solitary world to connect with others.

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Rhythmic Entrainment Intervention

This treatment uses specific drum rhythms that theoretically re-entrain the body’s internal patterns to their natural order. This assumes that healthy internal bodily functions are directed by natural patterns, and that persons with disabilities have natural rhythms that are out of sync. Once human functions are changed, brain functioning likewise improves.

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Secretin

Secretin is a hormone produced by the small intestine which stimulates pancreas, stomach and liver activity. This hormone has receptors in the brain. There has been dramatic response by some children who were administered secretin injections. Studies done so far do not show clear cut evidence of the efficacy of secretin. A synthetic human form of secretin is currently being developed.

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Sensory Integration Therapy

Sensory Integration (SI) is based on the work of Dr. J. Ayers. Occupational therapists utilize the technique of SI to help children increase tolerance to offensive stimuli and satisfy sensory craving. Many individuals with autism/pdd show atypical reaction to common sensory input. They may be overly sensitive or not sensitive enough to sounds, sights, touch, movement, body position or touch.

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Social Skills Training

This is based on the assumption that many social skills must be taught to children with autism/pdd with concrete explanations. Social stories describe specific social situation and gives appropriate social responses. Books by C Gray describe specific examples. Review of social interactions in the context of play can be described by an adult as play happens to describe the event; describe how the child is feeling; and suggest words or phrases to close or continue the interaction.

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TEACCH

Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication handicapped Children is a program developed in North Carolina by E. Schopler. The elements of this program are: early identification; parent training; education; social and leisure skill development; communication training; and vocational preparation. Its components of modifying the environment and implementing structured teaching to accommodate the person with autism’s unique characteristics are considered critical in the educational setting.

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Vision Therapy

Vision therapy may include the use of practiced vision exercises and/or the use of prism lenses. This is based on the belief that some of the unusual behaviors of persons with autism spectrum disorder could be related to visual perceptual problems. This could include poor eye contact, difficulty attending visually, visual fixation and hyper or hypo sensitivity to light and/or color. One needs to find a practicing behavioral optometrist for evaluation.

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References:

Decision Maker’s Toolkit: For Those Who Live and Work with Young Children with Autism/Pervasive Developmental Disorders. Available by mail for $12.00 per copy (which includes shipping and handling). SERESC, 11 Peabody Rd., Derry, NH, 03038, Attn: Linda Trapane.

Heflin, L. Juane and Simpson, Richard L., "Interventions for Children and Youth with Autism: Prudent Choices in a World of Exaggerated Claims and Empty Promises", Part I: Intervention and Treatment Option Review, Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, Volume 13, Number 4, Winter, 1998, pages 194-211.

Kitahara, Kiyo, A Method of Educating Autistic Children: Daily Life Therapy, Vol. 1.


 

   

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