Autism Spectrum therapies (A guide)

In this blog post, we will discuss the most common therapies used for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

Autism Spectrum therapies: How many are there?

There are several Autism Spectrum therapies but the most common therapeutical approaches include the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), Treatment of Autistic and Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH), Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA), sensory integration and speech and language therapy. 

Many treatments have been proposed for treating Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) where specialized and supportive educational programming, communication and social skill training, and behavioral therapy are contemplated to be the most effective.

Interdisciplinary approaches include occupational and physical therapy to address co-morbid difficulties such as coordination and sensory deficits.

In regards to behavioral therapy as is the case of ABA (most empirically supported by far), the main goal is the improvement of severe behavioral problems in several areas such as language, social or academic skills.

What are the autism spectrum therapies supposed to do?

There are many approaches to the topic of autism spectrum therapies, however, we mention some of the most used and known therapies. 

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

This type of therapy teaches children to trade pictures for items or activities.

This is specially designed for those who don’t speak, are difficult to understand or can’t understand.

Some studies have shown it can improve communication but there could be little o no gains in speech. 

Autism tattoos can also help with improving ones understanding of different colors or shapes for instance.


As mentioned by the National Autistic Society, some of the TEACCH Autism Program priorities are:

  • Personal focus approach, their skills, interests, and particular needs.
  • Active participation in the “culture of autism” identifying differences based on individualized assessments
  • Usage of visual aids to organize the environment and tasks when teaching new or underdeveloped skills. 
  • Supportive approach ion various contexts, not only when teaching new skills.
  • Being flexible and teaching flexibility.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

This approach is based on behaviorist theories (learning principles) that systematically target desired and disruptive behaviors through a system of rewards and consequences.

It has been proven through research that this type of therapy uses reinforcement as the main way of improving social, communication and the process of learning new skills.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy teaches daily life skills (to achieve a certain level of independence) such as dressing, bathing, eating and how to interact with other people. 

Sensory Integration Therapy

Since one of the main characteristics of people with autism is heightened sensory overload.

Within Sensory integration, therapy, the main idea is to help the person to deal with sensory information (sights, touch, sounds, and smells). 

Speech Therapy

Speech therapy helps to improve communication skills, where some might be able to learn verbal communication skills and others, can start learning and using gestures or picture boards as a way of communication.

Where can I find professionals specialized in Autism Spectrum Therapies?

There are many organizations and research-based centers that can provide specialized autism spectrum therapies for children and adults, but here we just mention theee of them:

The main idea is to ask as many questions as you can to make sure they are the right fit and for you have the certainty that they can actually help you either because you have a child with autism or you have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

If you want to acquire instant, online help for autism, Reddit autism can be very helpful.

Autism and medication

The most commonly prescribed autism medications to treat autistic symptoms are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as sertraline (Zoloft) or fluoxetine (Prozac).

Even when there is clinical evidence on the currently used medication, approving their usage and considered safe for use with children, they are not specifically developed for autism.

When dealing with a difficult child or adolescent with autism, medication seems to be the solution to all the problems.

However, this is not a cure for a lifelong condition such as anxiety and must be handled carefully because not everyone responds to medicine the same way and it actually comes with the possibility of developing some side effects.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) about autism spectrum therapies

What type of therapy is used for autism?

The type of therapy mostly used for autism is behavioral therapy. This can include a range of options such as Applied Behavior Analysis or ABA, Verbal Behavior Therapy or VBT, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT and Developmental and Individual differences Relationship or DIR. 

What is ABA therapy for autism?

ABA is short for Applied Behavioral Analysis and it is based on behaviorist theories (learning principles) that systematically target desired and disruptive behaviors through a system of rewards and consequences.

What degree do you need to work with autism?

You need a degree in psychology, Special Education or a related topic and you might need to be certified or licensed to practice. However, some employers might require a master or higher degree to be able to work with people with autism. 

What are the 5 types of autism?

The types of autism have been regrouped into 3 categories according to the latest update on the DSM-5, instead of 5 types as it was accepted before. These categories are:

– Autistic Disorder:  also known as autism, childhood autism, early infantile autism, Kanner’s syndrome or infantile psychosis.

– Asperger Syndrome: also known as Asperger’s disorder or simply Asperger’s.

– Pervasive Developmental Disorder (Not Otherwise Specified), also known as PDD (NOS) or atypical autism.

Is Aba the best treatment for autism?

ABA or Applied Behavior Analysis is considered one of the best treatments for children with an autism spectrum disorder. ABA therapy increases effectivity when children are younger than age 5, although older children could also benefit from it.

Why is this blog post about Autism spectrum therapies important?

This blog about autism spectrum therapies is important because it provides an insight into the possibilities of improving the lives of people with autism through the existing therapeutical approaches available, that can potentially help to overcome some of the challenges they endure in their daily activities and interactions.

Recommended reading

  1. Music Therapy and Autism Across the Lifespan: A Spectrum of Approaches
  2. The Parent’s Guide to Occupational Therapy for Autism and Special Needs: Practical Strategies for Motor Skills, Sensory Integration, Toilet Training, and More
  3. Art Therapy with Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder
  4. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Second Edition
  5. Understanding and Working with the Spectrum of Autism: An Insider’s View


Child Autism UK: Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Autism.

Autism Spectrum Therapies

Hindawi: Autism Research and Treatment