Thursday, December 15, 2011

Popular Autism Therapy Mixes Warm Praise and Firm Guidance

Continuing autism series from the Los Angeles Times.

SEAL BEACH, Calif. -- It's 10:30 a.m. on a Tuesday, an hour and a half into Michael Thomson's daily therapy. Three and a half hours left to go.
Lined up before him are three plastic blocks and a toy hippopotamus.
"Which one is different?" asks the therapist, seated on the carpet with him.
When he answers correctly, the therapist lights up with approval: "Good job! You are so, so smart."
The drill continues with other objects. Each correct answer allows him to add a piece to a simple wooden puzzle. Its completion entitles him to the prize of his choosing: A few minutes playing with a toy telephone.
Michael, nearly 3, has been receiving up to 29 hours a week of "applied behavior analysis," or ABA, since he was diagnosed with autism more than a year ago. The therapy is designed to steer children away from troublesome behavior and instill social and communication skills.

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