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Early Intervention For Young Children With Autism: Continuum-Based Behavioral Models

Stephen R. Anderson, Raymond G. Romanczyk

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Over the last three decades, instructional methods derived from applied behavior analysis (ABA) have shown considerable promise for many young children with autism. The ABA approach establishes a priori that assessment and intervention methods must be based on generally accepted rules of scientific evidence. On one hand, the approach has produced a rich resource of conceptually consistent and scientifically validated techniques that can be applied in various combinations across many different contexts. On the other hand, this diversity has resulted in some confusion regarding the precise characteristics of ABA. In this article, the authors first describe many of the common programmatic and methodologic elements that form the foundation of the approach. A summary of the scope of the behavioral research is provided including greater detail on six studies that demonstrated large-scale interventions. Finally, the authors describe components of program models that share common elements of the ABA approach and use a broad continuum of traditional behavioral techniques. Some specific myths about the approach are simultaneously addressed.