There are several methods of behavior modification that are used to treat autism – ie. inappropriate, repetitive, and aggressive behavior and to provide autistic patients with skills necessary to function in their environment. Most types of behavior modification are based on the theory that rewarded behavior is more likely to be repeated than behavior that is ignored. This theory is called applied behavior analysis (ABA).
Behavior modification often involves highly structured, skill-oriented activities that are based on the patient’s needs and interests. It usually requires intense, one-on-one training with a therapist and extensive caregiver involvement to treat autism effectively..
Sensory integration therapy is a type of behavior modification that focuses on helping autistic patients cope with sensory stimulation. Treatment may include having the patient handle materials with different textures or listen to different sounds.
Social interaction is often affected by limited emotional development that is common in autistic patients. Play therapy is a type of behavior modification that is used to improve emotional development, which in turn, improves social skills and learning. Play therapy involves adult-child interaction that is controlled by the child.
Social stories can also be used to improve undeveloped social skills. Stories are designed to help autistic patients understand the feelings, ideas, and points of view of others, or to suggest an alternate response to a particular situation. They also may be used to help patients understand and cope with their own feelings. Behavioral therapists can teach caregivers how to develop social stories.