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Five Beneficial Therapies for Children with Autism

Therapies that Benefit Autistic Children

  • ABA
  • PVT
  • ESDM
  • Floortime
  • RDI

Many beneficial therapies for children with autism exist. Providing effective therapy is essential for these children, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate to be 1 in 68 school-aged children.


Applied Behavioral Analysis uses behavioral teaching to improve cognitive and language skills. Although several models exist, all include a three-step process for teaching. The first step is the antecedent which is usually a command or request. The second is the child’s response to the antecedent. The third is the consequence for the child’s behavior. If the child had the appropriate behavior, then they would receive positive reinforcement. If the child did not have a reaction to the antecedent, then no action is taken. A key component of this therapy is to break down each skill into small, manageable steps.


Pivotal Response Treatment is based on Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy. It’s used to increase a variety of skills, teach language, and to decrease disruptive behaviors. In this beneficial therapy for children with autism, there’s a focus on the pivotal, or critical, behaviors which impact numerous other behaviors. The main pivotal behaviors are self-management, self-initiation, motivation, and responding to cues. Focusing on these select areas allow for improvements in other areas. Motivation is a large factor in this method with an emphasis on natural reinforcement which provides the child with a reward that’s related to their correctly exhibited behavior.


Early Start Denver Model therapy is for children aged one to four years old. Children are assessed using a curriculum checklist that addresses all areas of early development including imitation, cognitive skills, social behavior, language, adaptive behavior, self-help skills, fine motor skills, and gross motor skills. Therapists provide services in the child’s home during times when they would normally play and go about their daily routines. Therapists use play strategies allowing children to learn and parents are heavily involved. After receiving treatment for one year, children have shown improvements in their IQ, adaptive behavior, and in their social skills.


In floortime therapy, the therapist gets on the floor to interact with the child which is how the name of this therapy came about. The therapist instructs the parents on how to interact with the child on the floor. The parents learn how to engage the child in complex interactions. While on the floor, the adults follow the child’s lead and join in the activities. The goal of this beneficial therapy for children with autism is to help the child reach the six developmental milestones of self-regulation and world interest, two-way communication, complex communication, intimacy, emotional thinking, and emotional ideas.


Relationship Development Intervention aims to build dynamic intelligence which is the capacity to think flexibly. There are six objectives which are emotional referring, flexible thinking, social coordination, foresight and hindsight, and declarative language. The child initially works individually with a parent and eventually a peer. After, more children join the group and various settings. This allows for the child to understand how to build and maintain relationships in a variety of environments. The goal of this beneficial therapy for children with autism is to enhance the long-term quality of the child’s life by teaching them social skills and adaptability.

Children are increasingly being diagnosed with autism. Thankfully, many beneficial therapies for children with autism are being regularly used to improve their skills and quality of life.

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