The intervention programmes is based on the following approaches, teaching strategies and instructional methods:
- Structured Teaching – This is an intervention philosophy developed in the early 1970s by the University of North Carolina, Division TEACCH(Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication Handicapped Children ). Structured teaching is an approach in instructing children with autism. The primary components of structured teaching are physical structure, visual schedules and ‘work systems’. These allow the child to develop overall independent functioning. It also allows for implementation of a variety of instructional methods Eg. visual strategies, Picture Exchange Communication System, sensory integration strategies, discrete trial teaching, Greenspan’s Floortime, music / rhythm intervention strategies etc.
- Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) principles and Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT) – eg. Techniques of task analysis, behaviour shaping, prompting, prompt fading, and positive reinforcement are used. This is also known as Behavioural Intervention or Lovaas method, and has been scientifically proven to help children with autism and other developmental disabilities to acquire skills. A functional behavioural approach is used to address challenging behaviours.
- Floortime or D.I.R. Model – This is known as the developmental, individual-differences and relationship-based model. It is a specialized type of play therapy developed for children with special needs by Dr. Stanley Greenspan in America. This approach focuses on the six basic and fundamental developmental milestones of emotional development, which is essential for normal intellectual and social functioning. It also focuses on the biological differences (sensory processing and motor planing capacities) of each individual child and the interactive pattern of the child/caregiver dyad.
- Sensory integration – This is the process when sensory information is collected (through the sensory channels), transmitted to the brain, interpreted and organized, prior to the individual responding appropriately. The most frequently referred to as the senses are touch, taste, smell, sight and sound. However, the body also senses movement, force of gravity and body position through the muscles and joints (this is referred to as proprioception).
Children with autism do not regulate sensory input well, paying little attention to most things (undereactive) or overreacting to others. When sensory input is not organized properly, problems in learning, development or behavior may be evident. Therefore, a variety of sensory activities are used to help the sensory processing, modulation and motor planning capacities.
- Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) – This is an augmentative communication system developed in America which focuses on getting the nonverbal child to initiate communication through the use of picture symbols. It is also used to help the child to develop language with the support of the pictures and then phased out when the child begins to use language verbally.