Therapy Used in Autism Treatment

As we work with your child, we will assess what the next steps should be. While many children will receive services based in applied behavior analysis (ABA), other therapies may also be used to help your child reach their full potential.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

ABA is based on the science of learning and behavior, and it is tailored to your child’s specific needs. Through a program of positive reinforcement and teaching consequences of one’s actions, ABA can help your child:
  • Communicate better
  • Decrease challenging behaviors
  • Improve social skills
  • Help with memory and attention
  • Increase success at school
ABA is customizable for each child. The goal is to teach children the skills necessary to be successful in life, whether in school, social settings or at home. In the beginning, a behavior therapist will spend time with your child and family to get an overall picture of what types of environments and situations cause stress, anxiety and challenging behaviors. This interaction also helps the behavior therapist better understand your child’s learning behaviors, and what works best when trying to bring about positive change. During this assessment phase, the behavior therapist may assess your child’s abilities as well as their preferred items and activities. They may also look into the causes and consequences that may be reinforcing your child’s behavior. Following the initial period, the behavior therapist will create a treatment plan that in time will teach your child how to recognize when there may be an issue arising and give them coping skills to deal with those issues. The behavior therapist will work with your family and other care providers on these skills, allowing for a team approach to caring for your child. Once there is a successful treatment program in place, our team will help transition you back to your child’s primary behavior program to ensure continuity of the new treatment plan. This transition will include coaching and modeling of the developed skills to caregivers or service providers as needed. See this tip sheet for questions you can ask potential primary ABA providers to help you in your selection process.

Occupational Therapy

The goal of occupational therapy is to help your child live as independently as possible. Your therapist will work with you and your child on strategies to tackle daily activities such as bathing, eating, dressing and socialization.

Speech Therapy

The goal of speech therapy is to help your child develop the ability to better communicate with others. This may include improving verbal skills or teaching other forms of communication. Aids such as picture boards, gestures or mobile apps can help children bridge the communication gap.


No medications are approved to treat the core symptoms of repetitive and restricted behaviors and difficulties with social communication and interaction. However, there are many medications that can help improve some of the behavioral symptoms and treat other disorders that frequently occur in individuals with ASD. These include medications that can help regulate mood; decrease aggression, agitation and impulsivity; and help with symptoms of inattention and anxiety. Most medications work best when they are combined with high quality behavioral and psychological therapies.

Providing the Resources for Success

The Thompson Autism and Neurodevelopmental Center has a personal service coordinator and resource specialist who will work with your family to ensure you have access to all the resources available. This includes providing a list of local ABA providers, psychologists, parent education and social skills groups, who will work with your family and communicate with your child’s providers at the center. This minimizes any miscommunication and keeps all members of your child’s care team on the same page regarding treatment plans and goals.