Children with autism characteristically do not learn the same skills in the same way as their peers. Young children who follow a typical path of development are constantly learning from their environment and are acquiring new skills at a rapid rate, while learners with autism might not. Treatment programs based upon Applied Behavior Analysis create opportunities for children to access the learning opportunities that other children naturally seek out by:
enriching the learning environment,
breaking down skills into small steps, and
using high levels of positive reinforcement.
Behavioral treatment programs focus first on developing a positive rapport through sensory-social games and activities, the presentation of preferred toys, and shared enjoyment. Once an interactive learning environment is established, more structured learning opportunities are introduced. Structured learning opportunities involve the instructor presenting small tasks, and then providing your child with access to preferred activities and positive reinforcers; this structured approach allows for skills to be taught in a gradual and developmentally appropriate manner.
Each structured learning opportunity is recorded, and staff use the records to make data-driven decisions about what they are teaching and how they are teaching your child. Progress is documented on a moment-to-moment basis, so teaching results in effective learning.
Treatment programs carried out in the Friendship Tree focus on generalization to a peer-enriched environment, the development of peer interaction skills, and readiness for group learning right from the start.