I have been working with my son, who has severe autism and is profoundly non-verbal, since he was 4 years old (he is now a young adult). I started off knowing virtually nothing, but having heard vaguely of something called “ABA” (Applied Behavior Analysis). Had I known then what I know now about the behaviorally-based methods, therapies and curricula available, our journey would have been much smoother and faster.
This article describes the topics that I had to educate myself about: teaching methods, curriculum, how to make adaptations to help a child with autism learn, and increasing desired behaviors with positive reinforcement. At the end of this post is a list of methods that have worked well for us, plus my personal recommendations for books to read if you are fairly new to the task of teaching a child with autism.
Check out what reputable research organizations have to say
I recommend that autism parents begin by reviewing the websites of two reputable autism research organizations: the Organization for Autism Research (OAR), and the Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT). Both provide information about successful methods for working with children with autism. ASAT has extensive information about methods that have scientific validity and methods that are much-promoted, but do not have scientific validity in the treatment of autism.
The National Autism Center has produced a guide for parents entitled: A Parent’s Guide to Evidence-Based Practice and Autism.