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Treatments for Students with Autism

The National Standards Project found 11 established treatments that have scientific evidence to support using them with children with autism:

• Antecedent Package: Implementing behavioral interventions to prevent a certain behavior. For example, moving a child who fidgets or cries in the back to the front of the class.

• Behavioral Package: Initiating actions to encourage a particular behavior. For example, giving children tokens for raising their hand before speaking.

• Comprehensive Behavioral Treatment for Young Children: Employing a combination of applied behavior analysis methods. Many comprehensive treatments begin with basic attending skills and age-appropriate play skills.

• Joint Attention Intervention: Teaching a child to make eye contact. For example, when a child looks at a desired object, looks at a parent, then looks again at the object.

• Modeling: Demonstrating in person or by video a skill such as playing a game.

• Naturalistic Teaching Strategies: Teaching a skill after taking a cue from the child. For example, reinforcing letter sounds after a student identifies the letter during story time.

• Peer Training Package: Typically having peers demonstrate a skill for others, such as exercising. “This can be very effective as long as it’s about training and not mothering the kids,” Rue says. “It can be remarkable for the individuals on the spectrum and also the typical kid who learns about diversity and things of that nature.”

• Pivotal Response Treatment: Using reinforcement, motivation, and naturalistic teaching as part of a specific package, such as using access to a preferred toy to motivate a child to request the toy.

• Schedules: Presenting pictures or written timelines so the child knows what tasks to complete in a day.

• Self-Management: Usually for older children, encouraging students to track and eliminate challenging or stigmatizing behaviors, such as incessantly repeating movie dialogue or rocking. “Some kids walk around with a chart and check off every 15 or 30 minutes whether they engaged in self-stimulatory behaviors,” Rue says. “Some kids set their own goals, such as computer access or a snack if they (succeed at a goal).”

• Story-based Intervention Package: Making up a story to mirror a child’s issue, such as a fear, and demonstrating through the story how to overcome the issue.