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Programs for the Treatment of Autism

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Programs for the Treatment of Autism

Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder first termed by a man by the name of Kanner in 1943. He described a group of children as having severe language, behavior, and social interaction difficulties. These descriptors are what have come to be the core elements of autism today. Autism is characterized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (4th ed.) by a continuum of abnormal development in social interaction and communication combined with a restricted repertoire of activities and interests. Children with autism are typically diagnosed by the age of two, with the prognosis generally being poor. The American Psychiatric Association's 1994 estimated prevalence is about 1 per 1,000 individuals with males being diagnosed 3 times more than females. However, females are more likely than males to function in the mental retardation range (Gresham et al., 1999). Currently there is no known "cure" for autism. Therefore, in the following composition I am going to discuss some of the methods designed to manage the behavior of individuals with autism.

The first program I am going to discuss is a project that was conducted by Lovaas beginning in 1970 called the UCLA Young Autism Project (YAP). The goal of this project was to increase behavioral functioning in children with autism by the use of simple commands (e.g. "Sit down," "Look at me"). During the treatment, aggressive and self-stimulatory behaviors were either ignored or reacted to with a contingent physical and/or verbal punishment such as a slap on the thigh and/or a loud "No!" while alternative behaviors were reinforced (Gresham et al, 1999).

The research design used in this project was a quasi-experimental design. The p...

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