The following is Handprints’ model for an effective intervention.
We believe that successful behavioral intervention begins with the development of strong Parenting Skills and Supports, and administration of Positive Behavior Supports.
- Parent Skills and Supports – Parental involvement is an integral part of every successful behavioral therapy program. Because children spend a majority of their time with their parents, parents possess a powerful ability to make positive and lasting differences in their lives. Research has consistently shown that children who received parental teaching and support in the home in combination with a structured behavioral therapy program displayed increased cognitive and developmental skills. Parental involvement is also important because it helps to ensure that skills that are learned during therapy sessions continue to be successful even after therapeutic intervention has concluded.
- Positive Behavior Supports – Positive Behavior Support (PBS) is a process for understanding and resolving the problem behavior of children that is based on values and empirical research. It offers an approach for developing an understanding of why the child engages in the problem behavior and strategies for preventing the occurrence of problem behaviors while teaching the child new skills. Positive behavior support offers a holistic approach that considers all factors that impact a child and the child’s behavior. It can be used to address problem behaviors that range from aggression, tantrums, and property destruction to social withdrawal.
Along with these foundational skills, the behavioral analysts will then target specific skill areas to provide effective intervention. These skill areas can be addressed solely by the behavioral team or can be addressed in conjunction with other therapies such as physical, occupational, and speech therapy.
- We utilize a functional approach to teaching language and communication to our individuals. The functional approach begins with teaching individuals to first engage with others to make requests. Once requesting has been well established our intervention can move to higher order skills such as fluency, labeling, increasing vocabulary, and relationships between words. Opportunities to communicate and practice the skills identified for our individuals’ progress are provided in order to generate the necessary repetition required for optimal acquisition and maintenance of language gains.
- Individuals with Autism or other developmental disabilities often experience problems processing sensory experiences resulting in extreme variations in emotions that manifest themselves in a variety of ways interfering with academic success. Our therapeutic approach is designed to assist individuals to utilize sensory activities and experiences to enhance each individuals’ ability to self-regulate. We believe self-regulation is necessary not only to calm ourselves down when upset, but also to alert ourselves when we need to pay attention and learn something new. The advantage of a sensory approach is that it is based on physiology, and not just cognitive or psychological strategies that are more difficult to use when thinking is impaired by emotional activation or disability.
- The need and desire to learn the very best social skills may be the most verbalized area of intervention among our patients and their families. Teaching, practicing, and developing the greatest possible fluency within social interactions for each individual with such a variety of individual differences is an enormous challenge for intervention programs. Our approach has been to search the professional literature for promising interventions that allow enough flexibility to meet the needs of those individuals who are learning the very beginning components of social interaction (i.e., Joint Attention) as well as those individuals who just need that last little bit of help with complex components of social relationships such as taking another’s perspective, interpreting facial cues to infer emotions in others, and cognitive flexibility. We’ve selected an approach that categorizes and orders the components of successful social interactions into 10 Modules, with three distinct levels of skill within each module.
Those Modules are: Joint Attention, Greetings, Social Play, Self-Awareness, Conversation, Perspective Taking, Critical Thinking, Advanced Language, Friendships, and Community Skills.
Daily Living Skills
- Daily living skills are those skills that an individual needs to be healthy, safe, and functional. Examples of daily living skills may include tasks such as grooming, bathing, cooking, cleaning, money management, riding a bus, crossing the street, or shopping. Daily living skills may be addressed with behavioral therapy through the use of task analysis and chaining. A task analysis is a comprehensive list of steps needed to complete an activity (i.e. listing all the steps in hand-washing or in making a sandwich). Once the steps have been established, determining how the skills will be taught (chaining) is decided based on the individual’s current level of ability. The skill set may be taught start to finish (forward chaining), or the end steps taught first (backward chaining), or all at once.