“Behavioral intervention strategies have focused on social communication skill development—particularly at young ages when the child would naturally be gaining these skills—and reduction of restricted interests and repetitive and challenging behaviors. For some children, occupational and speech therapy may be helpful, as could social skills training and medication in older children. The best treatment or intervention can vary depending on an individual’s age, strengths, challenges, and differences (“Treatment | Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) | NCBDDD | CDC”).
A notable treatment approach for people with ASD is called applied behavior analysis (ABA). ABA has become widely accepted among healthcare professionals and used in many schools and treatment clinics. ABA encourages positive behaviors and discourages negative behaviors to improve a variety of skills. The child’s progress is tracked and measured (“Treatment | Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) | NCBDDD | CDC”).
To relieve the symptoms of ASD, some parents and healthcare professionals use treatments that are outside of what is typically recommended by pediatricians. These treatments are known as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments. CAM treatments refer to products or services that are used in addition to or instead of traditional medicine. They might include special diets, dietary supplementsexternal icon, chelation (a treatment to remove heavy metals such as lead from the body), biologicals (for example, secretin), or mind-body medicine . Many of these treatments have not been studied for effectiveness; moreover, a review of studies on chelation found some evidence of harm and no evidence to indicate it is effective in treating children with ASD . Current research shows that as many as one-third of parents of children with ASD may have tried CAM treatments, and up to 10% may be using a potentially dangerous treatment [14-17]. Before starting such a treatment, talk to your child’s doctor (“Treatment | Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) | NCBDDD | CDC”).
There are different types of ABA. Here are some examples:
- Discrete Trial Training (DTT)
DTT is a style of teaching that uses a series of trials to teach each step of a desired behavior or response. Lessons are broken down into their simplest parts, and positive reinforcement is used to reward correct answers and behaviors. Incorrect answers are ignored.
- Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI)
This is a type of ABA for very young children with ASD, usually younger than 5 and often younger than 3. EIBI uses a highly structured teaching approach to build positive behaviors (such as social communication) and reduce unwanted behaviors (such as tantrums, aggression, and self-injury). EIBI takes place in a one-on-one adult-to-child environment under the supervision of a trained professional.
- Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)
This is a type of ABA for children with ASD between the ages of 12-48 months. Through ESDM, parents and therapists use play and joint activities to help children advance their social, language, and cognitive skills.
- Pivotal Response Training (PRT)
PRT aims to increase a child’s motivation to learn, monitor their own behavior, and initiate communication with others. Positive changes in these behaviors are believed to have widespread effects on other behaviors.
- Verbal Behavior Intervention (VBI)
VBI is a type of ABA that focuses on teaching verbal skills (“Treatment | Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) | NCBDDD | CDC”).