Education and Management
Most methods are designed primarily for young children, though some advocates claim they could work with adults too.
- Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Behaviour Modification or Lovaas Method
These techniques, formalized as the Lovaas Method from the 1960s, assume that all behaviour is learned through the consequences that follow. If a child likes the consequence, the behaviour will be repeated; if a child does not like the consequence, the behaviour is less likely to be repeated. This approach is based on the premise that children with Autism do not learn from their environment as normal children do, and therefore need a very intensive and structured learning program. Autism is viewed as a combination of numerous behavioural deficits that have to be changed to bring the child into our world. Three common techniques of behavior management are a system of rewards for appropriate behaviours, extinction of undesirable behaviors, and “Time-Out” or removal of the child by an adult from a problem situation. The intervention is advocated by families of children with Autism since the late 1990s in many parts of the world, especially North America. In Ontario, the intervention is also known as Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention (EIBI).
- TEACCH methods (Treatment & Education of Autistic & Related Communication Handicapped Children) were developed under the leadership of Dr Eric Schopler in North Carolina from the 1980s. They also use behaviour modification but in a more cognitive way than ABA, emphasizing skills the children already possess and using visual cues and schedule boards. The long-term goals are both skill development and fulfillment of fundamental human needs such as dignity, engagement in productive and personally meaningful activities, and feelings of security, self-efficacy, and self-confidence. To accomplish these goals, TEACCH developed the intervention approach called “Structured Teaching.”
- The Son-Rise Program at the Autism Treatment Center of America™ teaches parents how to develop and implement child-centred programs in their own homes. Parents encourage and motivate the child in activities that they observe he or she enjoys. The child is the teacher, on the belief that going with rather than against the child makes the child more motivated to explore and develop.
- The Daily Life Therapy approach, developed by Dr Kiyo Kitahara of Japan, and practised at the Boston Higashi School, is holistic, based on relationships, and effectively combines elements of various specific therapies. The approach has three principles which foster human dignity and self-esteem and allow the child (or adult) to contribute to and benefit from society.
- Stabilize the emotions by creating known and predictable environments in which the person can master skills for independent living and thus feel accomplishment and pride.
- Establish rhythms of life and physical health and well-being through vigorous exercise, which helps to inhibit anxiety and increase self-control while decreasing aggressive and other behaviors.
- Stimulate intellectual and cognitive growth through a broad and age-appropriate curriculum (including language arts, mathematics and social sciences and with special attention to art and music) that allows individual interests and talents to flourish.
- Gentle Teaching (or Compassionate Practices)
The methods outlined above are used predominantly with children rather than adults. Forms of Behaviour Modification may be tried when an adult with Autism has “challenging behaviours.” A non-violent, non-aversive alternative teaches people with special vulnerabilities to feel safe and loved. Caregivers work to create feelings of safety and love in the context of a community of true companionship and interdependence.
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