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Children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are often faced with various challenges that affect their ability to communicate and interact with others.  While many individuals with ASD generally share common symptoms, the severity levels of these symptoms often differ depending on the person. As a result, clinicians and specialized therapists practice different types of behavioral therapy based on their patient’s needs.  Here are a few forms of behavioral therapy that are widely used to improve symptoms of ASD.

Applied Behavior Analysis

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a popular form of treatment for children with autism.  Many children with ASD have significant difficulty in interacting with others and facing social situations; this causes challenges in school, as well as other major areas of their social lives.  ABA directly focuses on teaching children with ASD how to play, practice self-care, communicate with others and improve academic and social living skills. Clinicians will use ABA to break down different skills while using repetition, positive reinforcement, and verbal encouragement to increase positive behavior.

Verbal Behavior Therapy

While some individuals with ASD can verbally communicate with ease, others may have limited verbal communication or none at all.  Utilizing principles of ABA, Verbal Behavior Therapy (VBT) focuses on teaching individuals with ASD verbal communication skills by connecting their words with their purposes.  According to Autism Speaks, the goal is to help the student understand that communicating produces positive results.

Developmental and Individual Differences Relationship (DIR Floortime)

Much like its name suggests, Floortime is a form of therapy that encourages engagement between parents and their children, quite literally at their level.  The idea behind Floortime is for parents to follow the lead of their child during play. By engaging in activities that the child enjoys, it will prompt their motivation to interact with others while increasing the ability to communicate.  Parents can sit on their floor with their child and engage them in interactive or sensory-based games.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is often recommended for those with milder symptoms of ASD.  This form of therapy focuses on targeting the individual’s specific behaviors and what exactly their triggers may be.  Additionally, CBT is used to improve overall emotions, combat depression and anxiety, and help improve or develop impulse control.  One of the many benefits of CBT is its adaptivity; clinicians can individualize treatment plans specific to the individual and their behavior patterns.