Therapies to support autistic children as they grow and develop require special consideration and a complex understanding of each individual child. The selection and delivery of therapies should be considered very important. In making the choice of therapy or combination of therapies, understanding the different therapies that support building skills for autism is essential. At this starting point, understanding therapies is especially helpful, and can help you prepare for initial discussions with a therapist. Each child with autism is unique, and as a result, each child’s treatment plan should be as unique as them.
Autism therapies will enable the child to start with basic skills and then be further supported with building skills via a balance of therapy to ultimately build the child’s own approach for self-sufficiency. An individualized program for each child is typically created. Some important therapies to consider include: Behavioral Therapy, ABA Therapy, and Peer Interaction Therapy.
Behavioral Therapies and Applied Behavioral Analysis Therapy
All Applied Behavior Analysis is different; however behavioral therapies are the foundation of treatment and are the starting point to introduce your child to autism therapies. Specifically, ABA therapy focuses on identifying the child’s behaviors and analyzing why the behaviors are occurring, then it uses clearly defined procedures to help address and help the child learn skills to practice positive behaviors in their everyday life. ABA techniques have been proven to be safe and effective for autism and can produce improvements in many areas of a child’s life including improving social relationships, communications and self-care. We previously discussed behavioral autism therapies for early intervention treatment; you can read about them in our article, Different Therapies for Autism.
Speech-language therapy is a behavioral intensive therapy which addresses a range of challenges faced by children with autism, from those who love to speak to those who do not. This therapy focuses on coordinating the mechanics of speech together with the meaning and social utilities of language.Therapists who support this area have additional specialized training and experience to provide therapy both on one-on-one, or in a small group setting.
Social Skills Training and Peer Interaction Therapy
Social interactions for children in mainstream classrooms are a challenge, as children are learning about social cues and expectations. Many children will struggle socially, yet all children are developing their social skills as they interact each day. Developing social skills with peers around the same age is essential for children with autism to create and maintain meaningful and successful relationships with children their age.
Peer interaction therapy is designed to support children with autism as they progress in developing social skills, primarily with children their age. The therapy begins under guidance by a therapist, in a structured format. At ABC Consulting, your child’s therapist will begin therapy by guiding your child and peers together in group activities. As interactions progress and the children are increasingly comfortable with one another, the therapist will move the therapy forward by encouraging activities to be led by the peers without the direct guidance of the therapist. Additionally, the therapist will encourage the peers to engage in conversations and activities independently in a step-by-step process, beginning from an initially fully structured approach progressing onto less structured sessions over time. Eventually, peers will be prepared to interact in fully unstructured sessions independently from the therapist. ABC Consulting offers Peer Interaction Therapy, which is a therapy service that can be added to your child’s curriculum plan with ABC.