Behavioural therapy consists of procedures of teaching Australian autistic children appropriate behaviours. Usually this therapy includes some form of a reward system. A child is taught how to act in social settings.
The behavioural interventions are often done in the child’s home settings. The parent is taught ways to deal with the child’s unwanted behaviours. Commonly, an autistic child learns that he or she will be compensated for good behaviour, thus he or she will stop some of the bad behaviours.
Behavioural interventions are known to address the following: challenging behaviours, parent interaction, social skills, anxiety, sleep, and attention. Early behavioural therapy involves programs that use specially trained medical practitioners who work hand in hand with parents and their autistic children for a timespan not less than twenty five hours. Early behavioural interventions are known to last as long as twelve weeks to three years.
There are several behavioural interventions in use in Australia as far as children with autism are concerned, and they include: applied behavioural analysis, discrete trial training, and Lovaas program. Applied behaviour analysis is systematically applied to children with autism to improve their socially important behaviour to a significant degree, as well as to exhibit experimentally that the procedures employed were responsible for the improvement in behaviour.
Applied behaviour analyst in Australia select behaviours that are applied, meaning that they are socially accepted and currently important to children whose behaviour is being modified. This form of therapy teaches a child with a diagnosis of autism, who does not speak or communicate through gestures or picture symbols, to imitate speech sounds or to request desired items.
Apart from applied behavioural analysis, the other convenient intervention is discrete trial training. Discrete trial training encompasses breaking down complex skills into sub-skills and teaching them through repeated practice; each unit of instruction is called a trial. Children with autism tend to present difficulty in generalizing newly learned skills.
Discrete trial training is issued to teach new skills, often called acquisition learning. In most occasions, when a new skill is learned in discrete trial, including matching of colours, the skill may not be used functionally by the child without planning for generalization and teaching the child to use this skill within a variety of contexts. In general, discrete trial is effective for teaching a child with autism pre-academic skills, most receptive language concept, and more complex expressive language discriminations.
Another unique mode of behavioural interventions in Australia is Lovaas program. This program involves quickly repeated trials and a very vigorous style of interacting with an autistic child that certainly works, but also reflects the vigorous style of the therapist. The program contains a highly structured set of tasks and record-keeping procedures that makes it moderately forthright for analysts to be trained well and know what to do next.
Lovaas program requires children to engage in very specific responses to one-to-one demands. Positive reinforcement in form of rewards, such as candy and toys, serves as the child’s primary motivator. The program tends to be quite intensive in terms of the efforts exerted by autistic children and therapists.
1) Margot Prior and Jacqueline Roberts 2006 Early Intervention for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/19A99E0084110A31CA257BF0001E74DB/$File/autbro.pdf
2) PBS and the worlds most expensive drugs: http://alifelesstypical.com/2011/06/15/pbs-and-the-worlds-most-expensive-drugs/