Behavioral Management Therapy for Autism

Behavior management therapy tries to reinforce wanted behaviors and reduce unwanted behaviors. It also suggests what caregivers can do before, during, after, and between episodes of problem behaviors.

Behavioral therapy is often based on applied behavior analysis (ABA), a widely accepted approach that tracks a child's progress in improving his or her skills.

Different types of ABA commonly used to treat autism spectrum disorder (ASD) include:

  • Positive Behavioral and Support (PBS). PBS aims to figure out why a child does a particular problem behavior. It works to change the environment, teach skills, and make other changes that make a correct behavior more positive for the child. This encourages the child to behave more appropriately.
  • Pivotal Response Training (PRT). PRT takes place in the child's everyday environment. Its goal is to improve a few "pivotal" skills, such as motivation and taking initiative to communicate. These help the child to learn many other skills and deal with many situations.
  • Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI). EIBI provides individualized, behavioral instruction to very young children with ASD. It requires a large time commitment and provides one-on-one or small-group instruction.
  • Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT). DTT teaches skills in a controlled, step-by-step way. The teacher uses positive feedback to encourage the child to use new skills.

Keep in mind that other behavioral therapies, beyond ABA, may also be effective for people with ASD. Talk to your health care provider about the best options for your child.

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