It is essential for teens with ASD to be immersed in appropriate educational and social environments outside of the home so they have numerous opportunities to make progress. Because every teen with autism is different, the best treatment option will vary as well. However, there are strategies that have proven to be extremely effective in helping teens with level 1 autism. Among these strategies are Applied Behavior Analysis and Theory of Mind. When parents are seeking external treatment option for their teen with ASD, it is important they consider these strategies.
Applied Behavior Analysis
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) has been proven to be very effective in helping teens with autism. This type of therapy connects stimulus and a desired behavior. In more simple terms, ABA uses rewards and positive reinforcement to achieve a desired outcome. This helps teens build the skills they are lacking around their specific interests and preferences. Applied behavior analysis has helped many teens with autism develop better hygiene, improved communication and social interactions.
Theory of Mind and Autism Spectrum Disorder
One of the most effective ways to teach a teen with autism these skills is through utilizing the Theory of Mind. Theory of Mind is the ability to accurately predict or attune to the thoughts, intentions, feelings, and perspective of another person. Individuals with autism have delays in this particular development. As a toddler, a neurotypical child will transition into a phase of cooperative play in which Theory of Mind begins to develop. Ideally the child begins to be aware of the needs and feelings of those around them. When Theory of Mind does not develop, early adolescence is marked with delays in social maturation, social/emotional problem solving, and cognitive flexibility all of which play a crucial part in adaptive function. Theory of Mind and adaptive skills-based treatment that targets executive function, emotional regulation, cognitive flexibility, social communication skills, and anxiety reduction.
Enrolling a teen in a specialized program, such as wilderness adventure therapy, that understands and executes Theory of Mind can help teens with ASD become more aware of other perspectives in addition to learning social skills and adaptability.
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About Vantage Point by Aspiro
Vantage Point is a specialized offshoot of Aspiro Adventure, the program that pioneered wilderness adventure therapy. Vantage Point focuses on helping students with executive function disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Nonverbal Learning Disorders, among others.
The Vantage Point programs are designed to build self-efficacy in our students through overwhelming mastery experiences – our students accomplish goals they never believed possible, which creates a belief that they are capable of changing their own lives for the better. We focus specifically on social dynamics and social skills to help our students connect with others and feel like they can be a part of the world. Experiential Learning is a tenet of our philosophy and our program. Paired with ongoing individual therapy and targeting specific areas for growth, our wilderness therapy programs are proven successful by outcome studies and are overseen by experienced Field Guides and clinical professionals