Two Therapy Approaches:
There are many autism therapy programs out there. How does a parent or caregiver choose? Well, the easiest way is to divide the programs into two groups: 1) the behavioral-based programs, and 2) the developmental or psycholinguistic programs. They are both effective, for different purposes. Note that both of them can be called “behavior therapy” because both of them result in behavior changes. However, a behavioral therapist tries to work from outside in, and a developmental therapist tries to work from inside out. A behavioral-based curriculum usually consists of a list of behavioral skills, and a developmental-based curriculum usually consists of stages of development. The former is good for teaching skills that can be broken down into steps; and the latter is good for fostering motivation and spontaneity.
Among the behavioral programs, we recommend the Verbal Behavior program. Among the developmental programs, we recommend the Son-rise program. AuSSM offers small workshops on the Son-rise program twice a year (the program voted by parents as the #1 therapy at the Autism Oen Conference). If you would like to be notified when a local Son-rise workshop is avaialbe, please send us an email.
Can I Combine Behavioral and Developmental Therapies?
The difference between the behavioral-based and developmental approaches does not mean that you cannot combine elements from both. Most Son-rise therapists also use the “positive reinforcement” principle of VB, and a good VB therapist also tries to encourage the child’s motivation by using the child’s interests. However, if your goal is to foster social spontaneity, you will have to let your child take the lead. This can be very difficult, because most of us want to correct the seemingly bazar self-stimulation behaviors, but not be led by them. This is the piece you may have to learn from the Son-rise program, whatever program you choose to implement.