Two Therapy Approaches:
There are many autism therapy programs out there. How does a parent or caregiver choose? An easy way to distinguish them is to recognzie that they generally fall into two categories (though often with overlaps): the behavioral approach, and the developmental or psycholinguistic approach. They are both effective, though with somewhat different emphases. The behavioral approach emphasizes the change of behaviors, and the developmental approach emphasizes the growth of abilities. A behavioral-based curriculum usually consists of a list of behavioral skills such as language and academic skills; a developmental-based curriculum usually consists of developmental stages such as social referencing and joint attention. The behavior approach is most effective when teaching skills that can be broken down into stepts, and the develomental approach is most effective when fostering spontaneous social growth.

Among the behavioral programs, we recommend the Verbal Behavior (derivitive of ABA) program.  Among the developmental programs, we recommend the Son-rise program. 

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.