Autism Treatment

We are committed to evidence-based practices, implementing only those treatments that demonstrate strong scientific support.

The Value of Early Treatment

ASD impairs the ability of a child to learn and develop skills on their own; it occurs more slowly than in typical peers. Research shows the potential for progress for children on the autism spectrum is very good with early intervention. As much as possible, individuals with ASD should be engaged in activities that help to build functional and appropriate skills.

Recommended Number of Hours Per Week

In 2001, the National Research Council Report recommended a minimum of 25 hours per week. In 2007, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended 20 hours or more of active engagement in evidence-based interventions. These are the minimum number of hours based on research for young children. No similar data on minimum number of hours for adults is available. At SARRC, number of treatment hours is determined on an individual basis to meet the needs of each person.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

(Adapted from the Medicaid SPA by Gina Green and Dan Unumb)
  • Applied behavior analysis, or ABA— an evidence-based best practice treatment— is the design, implementation, and evaluation of instructional and environmental modifications to produce socially significant improvements in human behavior. It includes the empirical identification of functional relations between behavior and environmental factors, known as functional assessment and analysis.
  • Applied behavior analysis interventions are based on scientific research and the direct observation and measurement of behavior and the environment. Behavior analysts utilize contextual factors, motivating operations, antecedent stimuli, positive reinforcement, and other consequences to help people develop new behaviors, increase or decrease existing behaviors, and emit behaviors under specific environmental conditions. 
  • ABA interventions for people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) involve directly and objectively measuring potential target behaviors and environmental events that influence them; constructing detailed, individualized behavior analytic treatment plans; using reinforcement and other scientifically validated procedures to build functional skills and reduce behaviors that jeopardize health, safety and independent functioning; managing treatment environments to maximize client 
    progress; implementing treatment protocols repeatedly, frequently, and adjusting treatment protocols based on data. They may be focused (addressing a limited number of target behaviors) or comprehensive (addressing multiple targets in multiple developmental domains). ABA assessments and interventions are supported by scientific evidence as medically necessary for people with ASD, and are not experimental.
  • ABA services can be covered based upon a written prescription from a qualified health care professional that those services are medically necessary to develop, maintain, or restore, to the maximum extent practicable, the functioning of an individual with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or other condition for which ABA is recognized as medically necessary.

Applied Behavior Analysis Interventions

Interventions supported by the most scientific evidence are based on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and include the following:

  • Discrete Trial Training (DTT)
  • Incidental Teaching
  • Learning Experiences: An Alternative Program for Preschoolers & Parents (LEAP)
  • Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS)
  • Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT)
  • Verbal Behavior (VB)

With effective interventions, family involvement, and community-based support, individuals with ASD and their families can live meaningful and productive lives with varying levels of assistance.