Are you a BCBA or an RBT? Join The New Golden Steps ABA Fellowship Program
See Open Roles
We do not have a commercial relationship with any of these companies and have not otherwise been endorsed by, are not affiliated with, and do not intend to suggest a connection to, any of the companies listed on the page.

Autism Behavior Strategies for Growth

Discover revolutionary autism behavior strategies, transforming lives with effective communication and therapies.

Effective Autism Behavior Strategies

When it comes to managing autism, a variety of behavior strategies can be employed to improve the quality of life and developmental outcomes for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These strategies are based on a holistic understanding of the individual's unique needs and capacities. Let's explore three prominent methods: Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Speech and Language Therapy, and Occupational Therapy.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a prominent behavioral approach that has extensive evidence supporting its effectiveness in treating symptoms of ASD [1]. ABA is a therapeutic strategy that encourages desired behaviors and discourages undesired behaviors. It's designed to improve various skills, including communication, social interactions, and learning abilities.

ABA involves regular monitoring and measurement of progress, ensuring that the intervention is effective and can be adjusted as necessary. This method is based on the understanding that behaviors are learned and can therefore be changed through systematic and structured interventions. By using positive reinforcement and other techniques, ABA can make a significant difference in the lives of individuals with ASD.

Speech and Language Therapy

Speech and Language Therapy is another common therapeutic approach used for individuals with ASD. This therapy aims to improve understanding and use of speech and language through various communication methods.

Through structured interventions, this therapy can help individuals with ASD improve their verbal and non-verbal communication skills. It can enhance their ability to understand and use language effectively, enabling them to communicate their needs, wants, and thoughts more effectively. In addition to improving communication skills, Speech and Language Therapy can also enhance social interaction skills, empowering individuals with ASD to build meaningful relationships with others.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy is a critical intervention for individuals with ASD, as it focuses on teaching skills necessary for independent living. These skills include everyday tasks like dressing, eating, and bathing, as well as relating to people.

This therapy is designed to support individuals with ASD in achieving their potential in all areas of life. It can help enhance their physical, social, and cognitive skills, thereby improving their ability to perform daily tasks independently. By focusing on the individual's strengths and interests, Occupational Therapy can provide a balanced approach to managing autism.

These effective autism behavior strategies highlight the importance of a comprehensive and individualized approach to managing autism. By incorporating these strategies, individuals with ASD can enhance their skills, improve their quality of life, and achieve their full potential.

Developmental Approaches

When considering autism behavior strategies, it's important to look at developmental approaches that address the unique learning needs of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Two widely recognized models in this area are the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) and the Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication-Handicapped Children (TEACCH) method.

Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)

The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is a comprehensive behavioral intervention designed for young children with ASD. It employs a play-based approach that focuses on social exchanges, shared attention, and the development of language, social, and learning skills.

ESDM interventions are delivered within natural play and everyday activities. This approach provides numerous opportunities for children to practice and generalize skills in a fun and engaging manner. By integrating therapeutic strategies into enjoyable activities, children are more likely to be motivated to participate and learn.

Specific skills targeted by the ESDM include joint attention, imitation, communication, emotional expression, and interpersonal relationships. While ESDM is typically administered by trained therapists, parents and caregivers can also be trained to implement these strategies, providing additional opportunities for learning and development.


The TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication-Handicapped Children) method is another developmental approach used in the management of ASD. This educational approach emphasizes the use of visual learning strategies and a structured environment to promote independence and improve academic and other outcomes [1].

TEACCH strategies involve organizing the physical environment, creating schedules, and using visual materials to help individuals with ASD understand and navigate their world. These strategies can be adapted to suit the individual's skills and interests, making them highly versatile and effective.

For example, visual schedules can be used to provide clear and predictable routines, reducing anxiety and improving task completion. Visual cues and prompts can also be used to teach new skills and guide behavior. By providing a structured and predictable environment, the TEACCH method supports individuals with ASD to build confidence, independence, and functional skills.

Both the ESDM and TEACCH methods offer practical and effective autism behavior strategies that can be tailored to meet the unique needs of individuals with ASD. These approaches highlight the importance of early intervention, individualized instruction, and parent involvement in promoting positive outcomes for individuals with ASD.

Behavior Strategies for Autism

Various autism behavior strategies are available to assist children with autism in understanding and navigating their daily routines. These strategies can be highly effective in promoting positive behavior, reducing anxiety, and fostering autonomy and confidence.

Setting Expectations

Children with autism often benefit from having clear and concrete expectations set for them. This can be more effective than using vague or lengthy instructions, as it reduces confusion and provides a direct approach to tasks. One strategy in particular, known as "Tell, Don’t Ask," involves instructing the child rather than asking rhetorical questions [3]. This allows for clearer communication and expectations.

Another effective strategy is to provide choices to children. By offering options, such as selecting preferred toys for bath time, parents can increase the likelihood of cooperation and engagement in activities [3].

Visual Schedules

Children with autism often respond better to pictures, visual cues, demonstrations, or physical prompting than verbal instructions. Therefore, using visual schedules and visual cues can be beneficial. Visual schedules can provide a clear and tangible reference for what to expect throughout the day, helping to reduce anxiety and improve cooperation.

Additionally, some children with autism have difficulty understanding the concept of time or numbers, so visual timers can be helpful in keeping track of time and helping them transition between activities.

Positive Reinforcement

Implementing positive behavior techniques, such as positive reinforcement, can help reduce challenging behaviors in children with autism. Traditional parenting strategies like punishment, time-outs, and spanking may not be effective and could potentially worsen behavior [3].

One method of positive reinforcement is the "First/Then" strategy, also known as the PreMack Principle or Grandma’s Rule. This strategy involves pairing a non-preferred activity with a preferred one, setting the expectation that the child must complete a task before engaging in a desired activity. This can motivate compliance and introduce structure to transitions.

Equally important in implementing these autism behavior strategies is for adults to remain calm when interacting with children with autism, as yelling and threatening can worsen behavior and cause anxiety or distress [2]. By understanding and applying these strategies consistently, parents and caregivers can help children with autism develop positive behaviors and coping skills, making daily routines smoother and more manageable.

Communication Strategies for Autism

Reinforcing communication skills is a crucial aspect of autism behavior strategies. Developing effective communication methods can significantly enhance the individual's ability to express their needs, desires, and emotions. Here are three common methods used to improve communication in individuals with autism: communication boards, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), and sign language.

Communication Boards

Communication boards offer a visual aid for individuals with autism to express their thoughts and needs. They typically consist of images, symbols, or words that represent different items, actions, or emotions. The user can point to or touch the appropriate symbol to communicate their message.

For example, the board might include images of food items for meal times, symbols of different activities for playtime, or cards with various emotions to express feelings. This method can help those who struggle with verbal communication to convey their needs or feelings effectively, fostering a more positive communication experience.

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is another visual-based method that encourages non-verbal individuals with autism to initiate communication. It involves the individual handing a picture of what they want to a communication partner. The partner then provides the requested item while verbally stating what it is, reinforcing both the word and the object's association.

PECS can be an empowering tool for individuals with autism, as it allows them to initiate communication and actively participate in social interactions. This method can also help reduce frustration and improve their understanding and use of language over time.

Sign Language

Sign language provides a non-verbal, tactile method of communication. For some individuals with autism, especially those with speech or language difficulties, sign language can be an effective way to communicate.

Using sign language, individuals can express their needs, wants, and emotions through hand gestures. This method not only aids in communication but also helps improve fine motor skills. It's important to note that a consistent and patient approach is necessary when teaching sign language, as it may take time for the individual to grasp and use the signs effectively.

In conclusion, communication boards, PECS, and sign language are all valuable tools in the arsenal of autism behavior strategies. By implementing these methods, caregivers and therapists can significantly enhance communication skills in individuals with autism, leading to a better understanding of their needs and emotions.

Parent-Implemented Autism Therapies

Parents and caregivers play a crucial role in the life of a child with autism. To support the growth and development of their children, they often employ various autism behavior strategies at home. Some well-established, risk-free therapies include Play Therapy, Floortime, and Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) [5].

Play Therapy

Play Therapy is an effective strategy for fostering communication, social skills, and emotional growth in children with autism. Parents can utilize toys, games, and activities that their child enjoys to engage them, teaching and reinforcing essential skills in a fun and relaxed environment.

During Play Therapy sessions, parents can create opportunities for their child to communicate their needs and wants, thus encouraging functional language use. This therapy also helps children learn to navigate social interactions and express their feelings in a safe and supportive setting.


Floortime therapy, as the name suggests, involves parents spending time on the floor playing and interacting with their child. The aim of Floortime is to increase the "circles of communication" between parents and autistic children, thereby enhancing social skills and emotional connections.

Parents can lead Floortime sessions lasting around 20 minutes, either by working with therapists or by taking online courses. The therapy encourages back-and-forth interaction, which is instrumental in improving the child's ability to engage with others and respond to social cues.

Relationship Development Intervention (RDI)

Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) is another effective therapy for children with autism. RDI focuses on improving the quality of social interactions and fostering secure attachment relationships. Parents, trained by consultants, help disrupt negative behavior patterns, set clear limits, and establish authority [5].

Through RDI, parents can encourage their child to participate in social interactions and engage in cooperative problem-solving tasks. This therapy helps children understand and respond to different social situations appropriately, enhancing their overall quality of life.

Implementing these therapies at home can significantly support the growth and development of children with autism. However, it's important to remember that every child is unique, and what works for one child may not work for another. Therefore, it's crucial to tailor these strategies based on the individual needs and abilities of the child.







Continue Reading