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Autism Parent Guide/Questions

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Discrete trial training is extremely structured, so it’s good to coordinate with an experienced therapist or, if you’re trying it yourself, making an extremely detailed plan. First, you take an objective: Better speech recognition or skills, better motor coordination, better response to requests. You break that down into every logical part. Then you take them through discrete, or separate individual, trials, or tests of the skill. If you’re trying to get a child to respond to questions or requests, for example, you can begin with having them acknowledge the request with a sound or gesture, then have them do one kind of request, then another and another, then have them respond with Yes or Sure to the request until they have developed a proper response. If they succeed, you can reward them with whatever appropriate reward: Try to avoid candy or sweets, but perhaps some time with a game or alone would be good. Discrete trial therapy works for you and for your autistic child because it’s highly rational. Autistics tend to view the world as very ordered, and giving them a rational reward for a task makes it a game they can understand and relate to. It also lets them mentally break down the task they are trying to learn for themselves, which is far easier for your autistic child. CAPS is a well-accepted autism diagnosis and treatment system, but like all such systems, it has strengths and weaknesses and needs to be augmented with other approaches. CAPS’ primary strength is that it is comprehensive. Many other approaches, like DTT, focus only on teaching a few skills but don’t bear in mind that skills are likely to be forgotten or fade if they’re not holistically incorporated into the child’s life (Smith, 2001). CAPS makes sure that specific skills that are necessary for success in life and school such as academic skills (reading, writing, mathematics, and other basics), social skills, cognition, daily living and emotional management are trained. Further, CAPS allows focus on interrelation: Autistics like to have ordered, related universes where everything is logically interlinked and create semantic systems. CAPS plays to that sensibility. CAPS is wonderful because it is a beginning with the end in mind (Henry et al, 2007). Many other approaches either leave it up to the individual therapist to create an ultimate objective or really can only be used to solve multiple piecemeal problems. CAPS is comprehensive, but it is comprehensive with the goal of eventually solving autism insofar as is humanly possible. The ultimate goal is a fully functioning person, unique due to their special background and psychology but capable of participating with others with all social and mental skills fully intact. This is not always possible. indeed, it is exceedingly rare. But having this goal lets the treatment get as close as possible. One weakness of CAPS is that it is so comprehensive. To institute a CAPS regimen is an all-or-nothing deal: One has to commit to a number of elements and do extensive planning and charting. DTT can be used to teach individual skills where time or resources are finite. CAPS itself needs to be used in conjunction with other systems. In Aspy and Grossman’s (2008) Ziggurat model, CAPS is used to move from intervention design to implementation. Generally, all therapy